Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
Some people never re-read books or re-watch movies. They pick up the plot the first time, and as long as they don't forget too much of it, they find little value in seeing the same thing again. That's because these people are paying attention to the plot, and little else. This is a poor approach.

Movies, TV series, books...stories are interesting on many levels. The plot. The cool visuals depicted in visual mediums. The cool visuals easily create-able in one's mind for written mediums. The writing style. How dialog and subtle actions are used to sketch out the personalities of different characters. The stereotypes invoked. How the characters compare to various archetypes. For a surprisingly large number of pieces, the (bad) attitudes to parenting and children. The cultural memes portrayed, intentionally or not. The hidden and not-so-hidden messages and propaganda.

The viewer/reader can analyse the morality of each situation and its resolution, and compare to what happens and the results. Can pick up the relationship mistakes the characters make, and consider what would have worked better. Can observe the characters and their personalities, because, well people and life are interesting.

And, of course, there is the sheer enjoyment of it all. How cool is it to see a cyborg, covert-ops agent go roof-jumping, then charge a gun-wielding baddie while not firing, dodge bullets and kick him, and then, as he jumps away to another building, fire to hit his ankle as he lands (Ghost in the Shell)? How cool is it to see a half-goblin run though an encampment, dodging guards, arrows, and spears, dive through a wall (break it, not by turning ethereal), grab a previous gem, jump right back through the roof to avoid more guards, speed away, then turn at the last second to see an arrow strike his chest, and be pinned against a tree (Inu Yasha)? Who wouldn't be curious what will happen next when: a young boy wakes a demon (the hot chic variety), she is angry about the 700 years she spent imprisoned and playfully (well, maybe...) attacks him, destroys his school, then accidentally gets her hand cut off, leaves ... and when the kid returns home, he finds her sleeping in his bed (Tenchi Muyo)?

BTW, anime is great. And now that I think of it, here's a kickass webcomic. And here's a computer nerd style one.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
The best book ever is The Fabric of Reality by God David Deutsch. Go buy ten copies, read some, and give some away. The book even made it's own website and yahoogroup. (I think it's some kinda super book).

I also especially like:
1984
all the Calvin and Hobbes comics
Selfish Gene
the Wheel of Time series
Machinery of Freedom
Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy series

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (20)
Anti Theory

Anti movements are movements against something. They are destructive, not constructive. To be true, they must oppose a false idea. However, few false ideas are worth the effort of opposing, because false ideas rarely get highly popular or influential. Thus, all anti movements are inherently suspect.

There are two main ways to be against something. One can hate it, and be focussed on getting rid of it. This kind of person, upon success, will find life (or that bit of her/his life) empty. The other approach is to only be against something incidentally. This kind of person only hates, say, the voting age, not because "it's unfair" but because s/he wants to vote and it's in the way.

Real life anti movements are made up predominantly of anti people of the first, bad variety. Because they are based on poor motives, they tend to be corrupt, which is a word I'm using loosely. This applies even to true anti movements.

An example of a true, corrupt anti movement is atheism in the USA. Most US atheists are disillusioned theists; most are still mystics; most cannot even conceive of morality without God. Most vigorously oppose anything religious on principle, without any regard to its actual merit. Most cannot agree about very much -- this should be expected in the same way a group of people who rejected the theory "smoking is good for you" aren't likely to agree about much. "Agree about much" is relative to a control group of purely random people, and means they wouldn't agree about much more than this control. This no-agreement effect is because there are a zillion bad, false theories out there. Rejecting them may be true, but it's boring. We could spend our whole lives thinking of false theories to not hold, and we wouldn't get anywhere. What's far more telling about a person is which positive (I use positive/negative synonymous with constructive/destructive in this context) theories one holds.

More later. (mwahahaha, now you have to come back!)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
When people write comments, I smile.

I thought maybe I should made some mechanism for putting titles on my blog entries, but then I realised that'd be a lot like subject lines on emails, and those always annoyed me, because I often didn't want to take a stance on what my post was about. So I'd just write really silly ones or really boring ones, usually. Here, I can make a title with bold really easily, and also leave it out even more easily. So I'm happy.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)
Just read an email by someone who thinks writing decently (in the moral sense) is somehow related to the number of curse words used. So if I write "fuck fuck fuck" this blog entry becomes indecent. Fuck that ^_~ (upright winking face). The guy even appealed to the moderator. Very absurd. This is an example of a false and corrupt anti-theory (anti-"naughty"-language). And success would not bring practioners of this theory any happiness, either; it'd just leave them with less to do.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (3)
I just read an article I found on LGF. It discusses the accidental Israeli attack on a US ship during the six day war in 1967. Basically, there was bad luck and mistakes on both sides, and some miscommunication; Israel thought it was an enemy ship, and attacked (and figured out its mistake and offered assistance without even sinking the ship). Bad stuff happens in war. Oh well v_v (sad face, like ^_^ but reversed).

Except, that's not the end of the story. Apparently, there are a lot of conspiracy theory loonies out there, including US government officials, who think Israel intentionally attacked the US ship. How absurd! Said loonies piss me off.

If anyone disagrees, please write a comment.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (3)
I watched some episodes of Everwood. [This line altered for, ummm, reasons]

Anyway, I wrote this really good and long blog entry on what I noticed in the show, and then my computer crashed, so ... *sigh*. All you poor readers are gonna miss out v_v

However, I'll redo 2 things:

It's amazing how many bad memes and stereotypes, especially parenting ones and school/teaching ones, can be crammed into 45 minutes.

This girl (Amy) told how she got her first crush (on Colin). Colin stole Amy's doll, and said she had to kiss him to get it back. She kicked him in the nuts. He screamed. Parents came. He blamed the doll for his pain and she didn't get in trouble. So she got a crush b/c he protected her from the parents (who would have wrongly punished her for her morally right self defense). This overlooks the way Colin had badly mistreated her seconds before, and the way Colin should have been the one getting in trouble. And so, I have to scream. (Nice-ish girls hooking up with jerks annoys me).

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)
I wanted to put up more content yesterday, but I wrote 76 emails and got a bit burnt out. Today I'll probably mostly just watch anime, and write simple things, and answer comments.

I'm finding it a bit disturbing to learn how epistemologically unsophisticated most people are. Few seem to have any notion of what "objective" means, nor of how reality or morality could be objective. Most want to start discussion with definitions. Few understand evolution in its general form. I keep getting asked what perspective my statements are meant to be true from, and also getting laughed at, and also getting confronted with appeals to authority. It's a bit crazy-making.

*ahem* anyway, I'm now going to write something constructive:

"Moonlight Shadow" is a nice piece of music.

Sorry, here's something more useful:

The statement that "morality is relative" is a contradiction, because it says something about the objective nature of morality. The statement "morality is relative for me" similarly fails, because it implies that my morality is also relative, and that everyone's morality is relative, and is again a statement about the objective nature of morality for everyone.

Objective morality is also necessary to explain moral progress, which is a strikingly important part of history, without which most history is incomprehensible.

It is important that we can create true knowledge without certain or even true foundations. For example, even if I don't know what right and wrong mean, precisely, I can still correctly assess some things as right or wrong. If this was not true, there would never be any progress at all.

Here's my favorite Bush quote:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/06/20020601-3.html

Some worry that it is somehow undiplomatic or impolite to speak the language of right and wrong. I disagree. Different circumstances require different methods, but not different moralities. Moral truth is the same in every culture, in every time, and in every place. Targeting innocent civilians for murder is always and everywhere wrong. Brutality against women is always and everywhere wrong. There can be no neutrality between justice and cruelty, between the innocent and the guilty. We are in a conflict between good and evil, and America will call evil by its name. By confronting evil and lawless regimes, we do not create a problem, we reveal a problem. And we will lead the world in opposing it.


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)
curi: You should write a split personality post.
Elliot: No, that'd scare the readers.
curi: So?
Elliot: I like having readers.
curi: Maybe they like to be scared. Like a roller-coaster.
Isyn: Do you think I should sabatoge a roller-coaster, so the fear would be justified?
Everyone: NOOOOO!
Isyn: hmpf
Elliot: Go away guys, I need to write something serious. My blog is going to have real content.
curi: yeah, every 5th post.
Elliot: *jumps at curi*
curi: feh, you're a freaking human, you think you can catch me?
curi: *blinks out*
Ellliot: *crashes into the floor where curi had been sitting*
curi: *blinks in, relaxing on a sofa*
Elliot: grrrr
curi: Hahaha, now you look like a fool.
Elliot: I do not. It's no fair that you have magic powers! *whines*
curi: *giggles*
Isyn (soothing, enticing voice): Ya'know, Elliot, we could do something about that.
Elliot (angrily): NO DARK PACTS!!
Isyn: sheesh, I was just trying to help.
Lia (sweet voice): Isyn, there are other ways to help.
Isyn: But it's so much harder to do things the good way.
Lia: Righteousness is its own reward.
Isyn: *grumble, grumble*
curi: *still laughing*
Elliot: Shut up, curi, and you're coming off a total goof anyway
curi: As if I care.
Elliot: I know you like attention.
curi: yeah
Elliot: And I did name my blog for you.
curi: yeah
Elliot: So the more readers, the more attention you get
curi: hmmm, that's a good point
Elliot: hah!
curi: But wait! How do you know the readers want a serious blog?
Elliot: Content has value.
curi: So does fun.
Elliot: Are you contradicting me?
curi: Yes.
Elliot: I'd kick your ass, but, ummm, I can't.
curi: heheh
Elliot: *throws a fish at curi*
curi: *snaps fingers*
fish: *turns into sushi plate*
curi: *catches plate and starts eating*
Elliot: ohhhh! sushi! gimme some!
curi: What's the magic word?
Elliot: Bitch!
curi: bzzt
Elliot: Please please please!
curi: Well...
Elliot (slowly, despairingly): suuushiii....
curi: ok ok, you can have some.
curi: *snaps fingers*
giant plate full of sushi: *appears*
Elliot: mmmmmm *starts stuffing face*
Isyn: Why'd you make the sushi for him?
curi: He wanted it.
Isyn: So?
curi: It wasn't very hard...
Isyn: But why did you help him?
curi: *poses for the camera* I'm a good person.
Bribe Money: appears in reporter's pocket, with note to publicise this
Isyn: But why does helping others make you good? What use is being good?
curi: d00d, are you amoral or something?
Isyn: Oh, that's helpful...
Elliot: *still eating sushi*
Lia: *gives curi a look telling him to be serious*
curi: Morality is part of our explanatory framework.
Isyn: How do you know what it says?
curi: Start with some conjectures, criticise them, end up with tentative knowledge. Like other spheres.
Isyn: Well, why should helping be right? Why not hurting?
curi: Will you agree that views in beteween are inconsistent?
Isyn: Yes.
curi: So, you can choose between the pure-good .... I mean purely-helpful morality, or the purely hurtful one. I trust you'll do the right thing.
Isyn: Why should I?
curi: erm, well
Lia: Isyn, do you want to hurt me?
Isyn: err, no.
Lia: Well, then, it seems you've chosen. :-)
curi: Hey, that was brilliant, Lia.
Lia: It wouldn't have worked for you, anyway.
curi: pfft
Elliot: *finishes all the sushi*
Elliot: Hey, that was good. Thank you!
curi: See, he's happy. How cool is that?
Isyn: feh
Elliot: feh...that reminds me....I think I'm gonna watch Inu Yasha now.
curi: I thought you were writing a post.
Elliot: Some other time.
curi: Err, well, I may have saved you some trouble.
Elliot: What do you mean?
curi: See that camera?
Elliot: Yes
curi: Look closer
Camera View: Elliot lunges, reaches out, and things go black

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (7)
Moonlight Shadow Moonlight Shadow Moonlight Shadow Moonlight Shadow Moonlight Shadow Moonlight Shadow *ahem* anywayz

Anti Theory
(Perhaps this is more Inverse Theory, but I associate the two)

There are three stable, complete moral views: the true one, the inverse of the true one, and the empty one. (If stable is confusing, think logically consistent).

Suppose one chooses a single theory, and holds it sacred; whenever it conflicts with another theory, it considered better. What will happen, in the limit, as this person acquires a complete view of morality? For a few cases like "nothing else is true" or "only 5 things are true", we get a mess. But for most statements, like "my bed is on the floor", the person will approach either the true or inverse view. (Not exactly, there are issues like how s/he will react to moral questions about holding views sacred).

The point is, if one is very very attached to a theory, and it is false, then, the more one bases her or his view around the theory, the more her or his view will approach the inverse view. And thus holding any theory dogmatically is very, very dangerous and wrong.

Bits of this can be observed in the world. Like the way people who deny that my door exists, virtually always hate Jews.

And suppose we do not hold a theory sacred, and do have a predominantly good view. Then, barring misfortune, we should expect our view to generally improve. And if our view is predominently bad, without help, .... I suppose it depends on specifics of how brains and creativity work, but I was going to say to expect it to get worse.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)
Inu Yasha is a really good anime series. *ahem* anywayz,

Relationship Theory

The word relationship is used to mean a number of different things. It can refer to the interactions between two people (I will use Jack and Jill). It can refer to said interactions, and the emergent properties of those interactions. It can refer to only the emergent properties. It can refer to an actual thing, that supposedly exists, and has consequences (I hold this view is false). If I say "relationships aren't things" or "relationships don't exist" that's what I'm referring to, though I try to be more clear than that.

Or sometimes people say "you should stick together, for the sake of the relationship." In this case, relationship is shorthand for the valuable knowledge of each other, convergence, incomplete joint-projects, and such that the people have.

Reductionist relationship is a good term for just the interactions. This would include physical specifications on body positions for the time Jack and Jill went to ... not "the pizza parlor" but some set of lattitude and longitude coordinates. And for everywhere else they had gone they met some specifications about proximity or sounds directed at each other or something. It would include what sounds they made, but not what the words meant.

Emergent relationship is a good term for talking about emergent properties of the reductionist relationship, without bringing up anything of the information in the reductionist description. This would include how Jack and Jill feel about each other, what they mean to each other, and Jack's obligation to show up at Jill's house at 8pm on Tuesday (because he said he would).

I consider "relationship" to mean both of these. Anyway, you will notice that all the emergent properties are direct results of various interactions between Jack and Jill. The term "relationship" simply refers to multiple things at once. It is not itself a thing, with properties. Why does this matter?

Some people claim that relationships bring about obligations or various other consequences, in and of themselves. Example obligations are: to stay together, to not fuck other people, to be nice, to be supportive, to not leave abruptly, or to take care of one's partner in times of need. This is false and harmful. (Or, one could make the case it's misleading, harmful, semi-true shorthand). [Some or all of the things mentioned may be implied by the morality of the situation in some relationships]

The reductionist view of relationships as various interactions and their emergent properties is valid, and I think useful for seeing certain things, but for many things is a bad idea. It makes a lot of calculations (like predicting whether there will be a breakup in the next 2 years) totally infeasible, and it can often obscure the morality of a situation. So, while I often use it to answer theory questions, it's not that useful for many real-life things.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
I was tired yesterday and my last post had no thesis. I have two Relationship Theory posts I intend to write today.

Physics

Everyone knows that if you hit someone on the head, s/he won't turn into a democrat (assume s/he wasn't one). The chances of causing just the right brain damage to do that are on par with the chances of making her/him think s/he's a cow. This is because political affiliations are the result of many complex theories, and to affect them in just the right way to become a democrat would require an extraordinary ammount of information (or luck).

So why is it that people expect that some other physical effect, like faulty neurotransmitters or chemical imbalances, would be able to turn a happy person into a sad person? (Cause depression). How one is feeling is governed, just like political affilliation, by a large set of complex theories.

Or why do people think alcohol, which does not contain very much information, can change someone's personality?

The truth is that alcohol changes someone's environment (s/he gets different sense data while using it). Then, s/he reacts to this new environment according to her/his theories. And a lot of people have weird theories about how to act in alcohol-type environments. Depression works much the same.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (4)
David Deutsch

Posted to the TCSsociety email list, reproduced with permission.

1: "It is better that 100 murderers go free than that one innocent person is convicted."

2: "It is better that 100 tyrannical, bloodthirsty and aggressive states manufacture weapons of mass destruction than that one tyrannical, bloodthirsty and aggressive state without weapons of mass destruction is liberated."

Spot the difference.

-- David Deutsch
http://www.qubit.org/people/david/David.html

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
Relationship Theory

Setting The Stage: Jack and Jill see each other every few days, online if not IRL. They often chat, when something interests them both, and usually something does come up. They invite each other to do activities sometimes, and usually accept the offers, when they want to.

Thesis: Jack should not ask himself Do I like Jill? or Is Jill my girlfriend? and should not ask Jill Do you like me? or Why do you like me?.

Suppose Jack decides he does like Jill (romantically) -- what then? Won't he continue to do exactly what he had been doing before? And suppose he does not -- what then? Won't he continue to do exactly what he had been doing before? The same applies to girlfriend status.

Asking Why do you like me? has a bit of a different problem. Besides being useless, it forces Jill (if she answers -- she should refuse) to take a stance on what is good about Jack. Doing so can cause various problems. For example, if Jill gives reasons A, B, and C, Jack may become afraid to criticise those things about himself. Or Jack may be tempted to try and emphasise those aspects of his personality. Or Jack may become self-conscious about them. Or Jack may worry that they aren't all that good, and thus that Jill must not like him very much.

Before I close, I want to acknowledge that this isn't all completely true. Answering some of these questions can be useful for making (imprecise) long-term judgments for which the kind of approach I tend to recommend in the short-term is infeasible.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
Relationship Theory

Parents often make their children say 'please' and 'thank you' and send thank-you cards. In effect, they make their children apply compliments mechanically. Certain politenesses are appropriate in certain situations, period. The merit of the people involved is irrelevant.

The same thing can be observed, say, on sports teams where players are told to cheer on their companions, and chastised if they do not, even if they didn't feel like it or considered the event unworthy.

Some people realise this mechanical approach is silly, and then reject compliments and saying nice things altogether. It's difficult to accuse such people of wrongdoing. They aren't hurting anyone. All they are doing is failing to take action to, possibly, help others in a somewhat minor way.

However, even if there is no burden on people to say nice things, they still should do it. It must be merit-based and applied when felt, to have meaning. But fanmail (even very short ala "nice post"), comments on blogs that say "keep up the good work" (hint hint), or telling a friend "I'm having fun," when deserved and true, is valuable. It is encouraging, and we should like to make our friends feel good.

One might not see why this is particularly important. However, one reason it comes up is that I am generally against, say, telling one's friend "I like you" (see previous post). So, in the absence of normal things like "you're my friend" and whatnot, it is especially important to be active in expressing genuine, useful information like "I'm glad we did X today" or "that thing you said was brilliant" or "you look beautiful today".

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)
Warcraft 3 r0xx0r3z

Epistemology

We reject theories for being bad explanations (of reality), and accept theories for being good ones. How do we know which are which?

The following properties make theories better:
- says more (deeper)
- simpler
- explains what it purports to
- bold (exposes itself to refutation by all sorts of observations)
- supported by good arguments

The following properties make theories worse:
- contains unexplained complications
- is not consistent with some observation
- criticised by good arguments

Note the use of comparative words. There is no way to measure how good a theory is in absolute terms, only compared to its rivals.

I probably left out some important things, because I tend to do this very intuitively. Please comment on any glaring omission. (And yes I'm aware some items are a bit redundant -- redundancy doesn't hurt anything and can help.)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (3)
Physics

Does God exist? Are there faeries? We cannot have certainty in the matter, so we will evaluate postulating such entities as a good or bad explanation.

There are two important varieties of claims. One postulates an entity that does something. Santa is actually supposed to deliver presents, and to visit every house. These claims are uncommon because they can be falsified by observation (like watching bad parents fake Santa's visit). Some of these claims, like the tooth fairy, fail because they are refuted by observation. But some do not. One might see a burning Bush, and say that it is God's work. Upon observation, the bush behaves just as the believer has said it will. The problem here, is that the "God" being observed hasn't got any properties other than those observed ... He's acts just like a bit of fire on a bush. Or, the believer might say He's up in heaven, but the bush acts as if He were simply a bit of fire, and this brings us to the second variety of claim.

The second variety of claim involves attributing something to an entity that functions exactly as if the entity did not exist. This approach fails because it adds a complication (the entity) to our explanatory framework, without explaining this complication. For example, we might wonder where the universe came from. And we might want something better than is offered by modern physics. So, we might postulate that God made the world, because this seems to answer the question. However, all it does is deflect the question. Now we wonder where God came from. And if God is a complex enough entity to create the entire universe, then this question is even worse than the previous one (that we had before we postulated God), because we now have even more complexity to explain than before. It also violates the Unexplained Complication rule -- why should there be a God rather than not? This is unexplained.

One strategy that can be useful is to ask someone postulating such an entity, "How can I differentiate you from someone who made up an entity?" All the believer can really do is tell you to have faith, which is not a valid reason to think something true.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
I noticed a parallel.

Taking a reductionist view is useful in Physics when people make things up. It is easy to characterise made-up things on a human level (like describing what elves look like), but not easy to give a description in terms of atoms (without making the elves easy to refute via observation).

Taking a reductionist view is useful in Relationship Theory when people make things up. It is easy to characterise made-up things on a human level (like describing the effects of a supposed obligation), but not easy to explain what specific event created the made-up obligation.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
Movies:
Cruel Intentions
The Princess Bride
American Beauty
South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut

Nonfiction Books:
The Fabric of Reality: The Science of Parallel Universes-And Its Implications
The Selfish Gene
The Machinery of Freedom: A Guide to Radical Capitalism

Fiction Books:
1984
The Eye of the World (The Wheel of Time, Book 1)
A Wizard of Earthsea (Earthsea Trilogy, Book 1)
Dragons of Autumn Twilight (Dragonlance Chronicles, Book 1)
Time of the Twins (Dragonlance Legends, Book 1)
Scientific Progress Goes 'Boink'

Songs (this list is a bit random):
Around the World -- A Touch of Class
Moonlight Shadow -- Mike Oldfield
Semi-Charmed Life -- Third Eye Blind
Flavor Of The Week -- American Hi-Fi
Inside Out -- Eve 6
She's So High -- Tal Bachman

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (3)
Epistemology

There is a very pernicious idea in epistemology, called induction. It's an imaginary, physically impossible process through which, supposedly, justified general theories are created from observations. It's still popular with some philosophers. Others realise it does not work (it was refuted by Hume hundreds of years ago), then wonder how we can know anything, and get stuck on the Problem of Induction (solved by Karl Popper, who should be super famous, but isn't). And, normal people hold many inductive ideas as common sense, too.

The primary claim of induction is that a finite set of observations can be generalised into a true predictive theory. However, any finite set of observations is compatible with an infinite number of predictive theories.

To see this, just imagine a paper with dots (observations) on it. We're going to draw a line from left to right (with the flow of time), and it has to connect the dots. The line is a predictive function, that gives values at all the points, not just the dots. So, how many ways could we draw this line? Infinitely many (go way up or down or zigzag between points). What inductivists do is pick one (whichever one feels intuitively right to them), and declare it is what will happen next. And people with similar intuitions often listen...

If you want a real-world example, think about the sun. We know it will rise tomorrow because it is a good explanation of reality (via our physics). Not because we saw it rise yesterday (and the day before).

I tried to write an entry that would be more helpful to people who don't understand, and it didn't go well. I have doubts about how helpful this will be to most people. I can answer stuff in the comments section.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)
My intuition claims Inverse and Anti theory are closely related, but I can't explain why it is, so they will get different titles for now.

Inverse Theory

Coercion is a state of enacting one theory while another active theory conflicts with it. All emotional pain, amounts to coercion.

People with one of the in the limit, stable, complete worldviews (empty, good, inverse), will never be coerced. Because they have no contradictions in their worldview, and no unanswered questions, they will always wholeheartedly go for some single course of action.

As people approach one of these complete, stable views, they will find it easier to avoid coercion, because they will be closer to having a unified, contradiction-free view. Which means that sufficiently bad people (near inverse view) will be difficult to coerce. Perhaps this helps to explain suicide attacks.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)
People twist their factual views to fit their moral views, not vice versa.

Morality

Some people don't value anything. (This is often associated with the left wing. Offense intended, but not to any particular person.)

These people often adopt pseudo-values to hide this, from themselves and others. Pseudo-values have an appearance of being values, but are not. One way to spot pseudo-values is they can be applied without thinking. An example is pacifism, which states that all violence is wrong, period.

Pacifists, of course, oppose a war on Iraq. In Iraq, every day, people are tortured, which pacifists must consider to be wrong. Yet they refuse to do anything about it. The problem is, if they did not turn a blind eye to such suffering, their "values" would fall apart. They would have to support a war, and could no longer be pacifists. But they also cannot be good people, who support freedom and liberty and such, because they do not value those things, or anything else, and do not understand how any else can either. And so they cling to their pseudo-values.

Here are some other "values" that are often (not always) shams:
- Save the environment
- Feed the hungry
- Equality for all
- Loving one's family (Notice how mechanical it is. Simply determine if someone is family to decide if there is love.)
- Collateral damage is always wrong, because it hurts people (A pacifism variant. Easy to apply mechanical, just determine if anyone will be hurt as a result of action X, then oppose X.)
- Guns kill people
- Raise school standards
- Won't someone please think of the children!?
- Save the sea snails from extinction!
- All actions have to be UN approved.
- Curse words are bad.
- TVs ruin our minds

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (5)
Humans live by their creativity, not by devouring limited resources.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (3)
Morality

I was just considering posting some jokes as an entry. Many of the jokes I like are, to some people, offensive. Blonde jokes, dead baby jokes, religious jokes, racist jokes -- these don't go over well with everyone. And I want readers, lots of readers. So, unsurprisingly, it occurred to me that posting the jokes might be a bad idea. Of course, if I don't post anything that might be offensive, I'll never post anything interesting. So what should I do?

There is a moral principle that tells us, if we imagine some stone-age people, who want a society with lots of washing machines, their best bet is not to campaign for them, and try to invent them, but rather to become capitalists and try to act morally. Similarly, the Arab world, if it focussed more on acting morally than acquiring weapons, would have more weapons than it does (just like the US has lots). Of course, in that case, the Arab world also would not want to use them to kill civilians... Also similarly, if one wants to be happy, one should not focus on trying to become happy directly, but should try to act morally, and happiness will come as a side effect.

If I want readers, I should not focus on how to get readers, but rather on creating a good blog, which means writing what I want and like.

Even if we imagine in the limit cases with perfect foresight and calculation, a focus on morality would still be superior to a focus on readers. Either, they would be the same, or the readers approach would result in more readers ... at the cost of acting badly, and I certainly don't want readers that much.

As to jokes, as I'm ambivalent about posting them, I won't for now, but may later.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (20)
Math

After a comment on the last entry, I will now work out a bit about numbers in base -2. To start, I'll convert a random number to base 10. 101 would mean: 1*(-2)^2 + 0*(-2)^1 + 1*(-2)^0 or 5. From right to left, putting a 1 instead of a 0 is worth 1 -2 4 -8 16 -32 64

So, to get the number 2, we have to write -10. It seems very confusing, on a human level, that using a minus sign has nothing to do with whether the number is negative or not. I guess a computer wouldn't care about that, except that we often work in positive numbers, and can use unsigned numbers to save space.

Now I'll count to 10 in base -2:

0001 -0010 0111 0100 0101 -1110 -1001 -1000 11001 -1010 which is really jumpy, and a total mess for humans, and it's very strange to need more digits to write 9 than 10. I think it would be slow for computers to do addition with this. In positive bases, using digits from 0 to base-minus-one, adding is nice, because you just increment the one's column repeatedly (and each time it overflows, reset it to zero, and increment the next column). There are tricks, like if you have two numbers in the same base, you can add various other columns directly to each others. There may be tricks with base -2 also, but I still bet it's inefficient, because you can't just increment the next column when one overflows.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
Math

In base 2, 19 is 10011. In base 1/2, 19 is 1.1001

In base 10, 19 is 19. In base 1/10, 19 is 9.1

The trick is to write the number in reverse, and in the fractional version, put a decimal point after the ones column. This is because decimals have negative exponents, so the fraction gets flipped.

Fractional bases that aren't 1/something seem like a real mess to use.

Also, I wanted to count in balanced base 3. I will use -, 0, and + for my digits.

+ +- +0 ++ +-- +-0 +-+ +0- +00 +0+

You'll notice that you *can* count be incrementing the one's column repeatedly. You just have to remember to reset things to - not 0, after they overflow.

Will count from -1 to -5 now:

- -+ -0 -- -++

Notice it's the same as positive, with the -'s and +'s reversed, and 0's untouched. And you can count by decrementing the one's column, and when it overflows, decrement the next column and reset things to a +. I guess I should point out that you can add as many leading zeroes as you want, which is how decrementing a column that doesn't exist works.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
Morality

I hear there is a biology professor who won't write recommendations for creationist students. I wanted to comment in general:

If I ask Joe Dirt to write a recommendation letter for me, he is perfectly right to refuse. People needn't write letters for anyone they don't want to.

However, in a school setting, students are required to have these letters. And professors are expected to write them. Refusing to write students a letter hurts them. And such a blanket refusal is morally wrong.

Refusing letters over a student holding some theory, only makes sense if the theory directly interferes with the student's studies, and makes her/him significantly (meaning "enough to matter" not "lots") worse at them. This basically means refusing letters for incompetence (math major who thinks 2+2=5; politics major who thinks "democrat" is a type of fish).

So what about biology and creationism? Well, if you want to be a doctor, you learn how human beings are, and about medicine, and it doesn't matter. If you want to be a vet, and you disagree about why vestigial organs exist, but know the same facts about them, it again doesn't really matter. If you want to be a zoologist, and study the evolution of animals, it does matter.

So my view is, to be moral, the biology professor must refuse recommendations on a case by case basis, and only in very specific circumstances will refusal for belief in creationism be acceptable.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
Morality

Reviled in Many Places Around the World, Americans Are Adored in Kosovo

"Two years ago, after a U.S. soldier's weapon accidentally killed a 6-year-old boy, the grieving father publicly forgave the soldier and said he considered him part of his family."


The father is a Muslim living in Kosovo. Although the accident is sad, it is very nice to see such reasonableness over a collateral damage issue, by the victim. And doubly nice to see a demonstration that Islam is perfectly compatible with morality.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)

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Inverse Theory

One may wonder what view based on the theory "No other theories are true" approaches as it becomes a complete worldview. Prima facie, it cannot quite get to the empty view, because it, itself, will always remain. However, with no other supporting theories, it will be completely meaningless gibberish, because the person will not be able to understand it any longer. And so s/he will reach the empty view.

What about "No other theories but this one, and the ones necessary to understand this one, are true" (will refer to this as the flagship theory of a view)? This will include knowledge about not accepting false theories, and knowledge that truth exists, so it cannot go to the inverse or empty views. Can it go to the good view?

You may think it is not compatible with the good view, because the theory that the War on Terror is right isn't necessary to understand the flagship theory, only to avoid contradictions. Well ... knowledge is interrelated, so I'm going to take the position one couldn't claim full understanding without the complete good view.

Oh, also, for those people who like foundations: in physics we determine the truth of theories by how they conform to physical reality. In morality, we can now determine it by how they conform to the good moral worldview.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
I learned a new HTML tag today.

Make that two.

Morality

There is a new yahoogroup called You Poor Dear. The purpose is comfort and support without problem solving, debate, or criticism. How will that work? Approximately like this:

You, my dear reader, are a brilliant person. You're good at everything you try, and always persevere through misfortune. You're witty and fun, and a pleasure to be around. If you have any problems right now, which seems unlikely, I'm sure they are nothing for one such as you. If you are in school, you have my sympathy.

Best Wishes,
Elliot Temple

If you're objecting that the above is rather meaningless, you're right. I don't have a clue who you are, I just made it all up. How will the list avoid this? Easy. The participants will give out personal information to a public internet forum. This is a safe way to meet people and make friends, and I highly recommend it extremely dangerous. The more personal information one gives out, the easier it is for the other posters to hurt her/him. (To hurt someone with words, one must know enough about the person to know which words will hurt. Also, giving out personal information tends to lead to being hurt accidentally, if people talk about what one does give out without knowing everything else, like one's sensitivities.)

Anyway, the group doesn't allow saying mean things anyway, only nice ones. So when people post support it will be genuine totally meaningless, because it was the only type of reply possible.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (6)
Personal Information

Sex: What are you, sexist?
Age: What are you, ageist?
Race: What are you, racist?
Sexual Orientation: You like me that much?
Location: Earth
Specific Location: What are you, a hitman?
Culture: When I say We will win the war on terror! I don't mean the terrorists will win.
Political Affiliation: Read my blog and find out.
Occupation: Secret Agent
Cover Occupation: Blog Writer
Blog Writing Pay: Zero
How Can A Cover That Doesn't Make Money Fool Anyone? You know too much and must die

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)
Try to type to A Place For My Head by Linkin Park. I dare you.

Epistemology

Some people oppose governments on the principle that they are organised gangs of thugs. They consider the defining characteristic of governments to be that governments claim the right to initiate force ... and people listen (whereas most thieves don't pretend to be legitimate and aren't considered as such). They point out that they never agreed to pay taxes, and don't want to, and don't like most of the stuff the taxes pay for, and consider that QED.

Some of these people support the war on terrorism. They realise that terrorism is a large threat, and want it to be fought against. Terrorism is so bad that anyone at all fighting it is good. I suppose they must see the matter as a powerful pickpocket guild beating up a renegade gang of murderers. A "lesser of two evils" situation.

Some of these people, if given the option, would be happy to see the US government disappear tomorrow. The institution, the knowledge of how to run it, the taxes, the laws, etc This is absurd even within the pickpocket metaphor, as it means foregoing protection.

But there's more than that. The government does various things, some important. And it's not as if the spontaneous order of an anarcho-capitalist society will simply come into being. AnCap is not the natural state of affairs that once existed until it was destroyed when a bunch of evil thugs invented government and took over. It is, rather, a very advanced notion that requires lots of knowledge to implement. This knowledge must be created gradually, through the improvement of existing institutions. Government functions must not disappear over night, but slowly be replaced by private institutions that function better. We need good traditions, not a revolution.

What's good about government?

Governments create consent. Let us imagine a bunch of people living somewhere with no government, and little knowledge. Some will be bad, and will want to dominate over the others. So most people will form mutual defense pacts. And somewhere not too far off, some bad person will have taken over an empire, and formed an army, and thus our people will want to form one big defensive pact, instead of lots of scattered ones, so that they can fend off the entire army if need be. So they will form institutions to cooperate in regional defense, and small-scale defense against criminals. The small-scale defense may use a different system, or the two may be joined. Now, the people will need some system of deciding who is and is not a criminal. And the answer to this is not self-evident despite what some libertarians seem to think. There will be disagreements, and thus some way to resolve them will be needed.

One day, Joe's crop goes bad. He asks others for help. They form some food sharing institutions. They create rules to govern these. The people all value security, and thus put in provisions to help anyone who does not have enough.

One day they invent medicine. They realise that if they only pay the doctor when they are sick, he will starve in the mean time. And also that he will have no motivation to help prevent people from becoming sick. So everyone pays a low level all the time, and the doctor helps whoever needs help at recovery and prevention both. Some people disagree about who the doctor should be helping, saying he favours his friends, and they create institutions to resolve disputes of that nature.

What will all these institutions look like? Well, at first they will be very crude. The defensive agreement might simply state that all able-bodied men must fight when there is a war, or be put to death. The food agreement might allow anyone who is starving to take food from his neighbor, "as long as he made a genuine effort to create his own food." And the system of resolving disputes might be to ask the town elder.

And, over time, people will come up with better ideas. And after a while, and a lot of progress, something like our current government might form.

And, if this society uses a completely voluntary army, that will be an amazing advance. And if it has elected leaders who consent to step down when their term ends, that will be an amazing advance. And if criminals are presumed innocent until evidence is presented against them, that will be an amazing advance. And if there are property rights, and a system of consensual trade, that will be an amazing advance.

When we know how to do better than using government, we will. But we do not. And the path to better is not to rail against the government, but rather to acknowledge it for what it is -- an imperfect, evolving tradition. The path also involves raising the general level of morality of the world.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
Morality

I just read this USS Clueless piece and wanted to comment on a few bits. Quotes in italics.

I simply don't believe that Germany and France would be willing to sustain, let alone cause, the kind of damage they have just for the sake of moral inhibitions.

and later

And they have now reached the point where they are seriously imperiling the process of creation of the European Union. I do not believe that they would have gone this far if their primary motivation was moral inhibition.

I agree they wouldn't do all this just to hold to pacifism. But pacifism is an absurd moral stance, that very few people take seriously. Perhaps it's really about some other moral stance, like anti-Americanism.

And Rumsfeld refers to their behavior as "beyond comprehension".

I don't like to believe that this may be the reason, but I can't think of any other explanation that makes any sense.


Let's examine the roots of anti-Americanism, and it's close relatives like Jew Hatred. As I'm not much on history, I'll do this in abstract:

Long ago, no one knew about morality, and success was mostly random. All cultures had some people who were good at things, and some who were not. But over time, one culture evolved some moral knowledge. It's members led better lives, and were more successful. And it wasn't just luck, they did this consistently.

The other people knew of no way to be consistently successful. They watched the moral culture, and could not figure out what the important differences were. As the moral knowledge was evolved, it couldn't simply be copied. So, they were faced with a few possible explanations. They could, while having almost no clue what morality even is, decide they were bad people. Of course, they did not. Alternatively, they could decide the successful culture was somehow cheating, and hate its members.

In a perverse way it makes sense: if we are fundamentally the same, with the same chances to excel at any given thing, and I always beat you, I must be cheating somehow. And that you do not know how, must make it even more infuriating.

So, over time, the immoral cultures evolve their own traditions. They learn to hate the successful, moral culture. Partly, they want to destroy it, because it is living proof of their own immorality. Partly, they want to bury their heads in the sand, and get on with life as it was before there were any moral people. Partly, they want to be successful, and are unable. And, above all, the very premise of the moral stance of the immoral cultures, is a denial that they are bad.

So, I feel the explanation that France and Germany are in the grips of an anti-American morality explains why they will go to such great lengths to oppose the US.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
I've written comments about government in this Samizdata thread.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
Here's two generalisations:

Right wing folk deny explicable, rationally discussable causes for human behavior.

Left wing folk do not value anything.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
Parenting

TCS is the true parenting theory. The primary ideas are:

- Fallibility (certain knowledge is impossible; people can be wrong)

- No Authorities (ideas must be judged on their merit, the source is irrelevant to truth content -- therefore children can be right and can't be dismissed)

- A state of coercion is one in which a person has two active theories that conflict, and is being forced to enact one prior to resolving the conflict.

- Coercion is bad for knowledge growth (I will write an entry giving the epistemic reasons for this in the future)

- Common Preferences, coercion-free solutions to problems, are always possible

- This means children don't do anything they don't want to

- What people want is subject to morality, and thus children won't want horrible things, as long as parents offer good moral theories

- Good ideas beat out bad ones in argument (and thus if parent's moral theories really are better than some alternative, parent won't lose argument)

- If your ideas are so great, have some faith in them to stand up to criticism

- Criticism Good

- Abandonment Parenting is morally wrong (parents have an obligation to help their children)

- Advice Advice Advice (parents should give children lots of advice, but children should be free to disagree)

- Don't Hurt Children (I can't say this enough)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)
Parenting

Here are two generalisations (if you haven't already, read previous entry first):

Left-wing folk object to TCS because they view all sorts of things as coercive, and see parental coercion as miniscule in comparison, and a defense of children. For example, some lady got the word "gun" removed from her daughter's spelling test. One can imagine the reaction if her daughter wanted to get a gun, and write gun a bunch, and draw gun pictures. The justification? In essence "guns are coercive/bad". Another common one is "TVs are coercive/bad" and therefore must be kept from children to protect them. Also, not having a college education is coercive, and so are fatty foods, which justifies... Also coercive is capitalism, which justifies not letting children buy things (they'll be tricked into wanting more and being materialists).

Right-wing folk object to TCS because they don't understand causality in human behavior. Mindless causes are ok, but not rationally discussable ones. Hence, children have bad theories because kids are dumb, not because their parents mistreat them. And TCS is a waste of time, because children won't understand anyway. Children are dumb, you can see it if you just look around and watch some kids mess up. The solution is to discipline/spank them (notice this is a method that can be applied, unthinking, to any problem). Also, as behavior isn't caused in any rationally discussable way, people who say treating children as inferior messes up their theories can be ignored. Besides, do children even have any theories besides the ones we teach them..? And also, genes cause behavior and being naughty is human nature (but beatings can overcome human nature).

Thanks to Rachel Lucas for the gun link.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
Epistemology

True and mutable is one of the wisest phrases I know. It means we should hold our best explanations true and act on them, not give in to relativism. Just because we may be wrong, does not mean any particular idea we have is wrong, or that we should not hold our ideas true. It also means that our ideas must be mutable -- they must be open to criticism and change and improvement. And being mutable does not make them less true.

When someone says something is true, s/he does not mean s/he's certain it is true. That, of course, would be absurd. So what does it mean to assert something is true? Simply that it is the best explanation.

There is a common fallacy that says fallibilism implies mistakes. The logic is that because we can't be certain, we are bound to make mistakes. The refutation is to look at a particular action or theory, and point out that, while it may be a mistake, fallibilism does not state it is, and all we can do is use our best explanations. So, fallibilism is not an argument against this specific thing. Then, we examine another action/theory. Then another. The point is, fallibilism does not imply any particular mistake, and cannot be used as an argument against the truth of any particular proposition.

Credit for the phrase true and mutable goes to Yehudit's LGF comment here.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
Sociobiology is a very popular theory. It claims that genes (at least partially) control human behavior.

Now, in the general case, if we want to explain behavior, and we just attribute it to something random, like where the stars in the sky are, we will be laughed at. There is no explanation of how stars control behavior.

How's sociobiology different? It's not! There are studies that show correlations, but none that demonstrate causation. And there is no explanation of how genes cause the behavior, no more than there is of how stars do it. And there's a very compelling alternative explanation, that does include a mechanism: we act on our theories (worldview).

Now, you may know that animal behavior is determined by genes. And you may know that aspects of human bodies like eye colour and brain structure are (at least partially) controlled by genes. How can brain structure not (partially) determine behavior? Because the laws of computation state that universal computation is hardware independent.

In other words, universal computers -- ones that can do any calculation possible for computers -- all compute the same, no matter how you build them. Whatever the structure, if it's a universal computer, it won't give different results for the same input. It may have more or less storage space, and process slower, but, given adequate time and disks with extra memory, the results of all possible computations will come out the same.

So too with human brains. Any brain with the same input problem set, will give the same answer, because brains are universal computers. (Note that the input problem set includes all the theories [including memories] of the person).

Why is this different than with animals? Because animal brains are not universal computers. They cannot do all possible computations.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
Premise: All use of force risks collateral damage
Premise: Self defense requires the use of force
Conclusion: Self defense involves risk of collateral damage

Premise: All use of force risks collateral damage
Premise: Fighting evil requires force
Conclusion: Fighting evil involves risk of collateral damage

Premise: Self defense and fighting evil involve risk of collateral damage
Premise: Some people object to war against Iraq on the basis that collateral damage is morally wrong
Conclusion: These people think that fighting evil and self defense are morally wrong or these people are inconsistent

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
On the ARR email list someone just asked about Viagra. So I thought I'd go over the different ways drugs could help with sex.

It's possible that arousal works like this: we have various theories that trigger various chemical releases, and then other theories about what to do in the sensory environment created by those chemicals. In this case, if the first set of theories (that trigger chemicals) were messed up, we could bypass them with drugs. If the problem was in the second set of theories, about what to do with the chemicals released already, drugs wouldn't help. (You could string in more layers if you liked, like 3 different chemicals triggering in a row, some mechanically, some based on theories)

It's possible that arousal is purely mental without intermediate chemical stuff (or perhaps not according to modern biology, I just mean abstractly conceivable). In this case, drugs wouldn't help, except with physical malfunctions, like messed up blood flow to important bits.

What's not conceivable is to take theories out of it, and declare that "when in a sexual situation" or some such, then chemicals control behavior. For one thing, how do the chemicals know what a sexual situation is? And for another, chemicals controlling behavior is absurd. And for another, people have been known to stop having sex in the middle. (Oh, sorry, the chemicals take *partial* control, which means, ummmm .... nothing coherent).

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)
Anti Theory

Here's a relation between Anti Theory (about opposing things) and Inverse Theory (about the inverse moral view, the good view, and the empty view).

Inverse theory provides a strong reason that being focussed on anti theories is dangerous. If you're wrong, you approach the inverse view.

But what if you're right? Won't inverse theory predict you approach the good view? Technically, yes, as your worldview becomes complete, it will go to the good one. However, holding a theory sacred has no effect if the theory is never challenged. And it's not as if reasonable people are in danger of approaching the inverse view unless they grab hold of "people who think apples are the spawn of the devil are wrong" for dear life.

Focusing on theories and holding them strongly has the most effect on one's progression to a stable worldview when those theories come up a lot, and say a lot. So, holding some trivial falsehood wrong, won't matter much. But holding something true false, will matter quite a lot. Anytime the subject comes up, it will lead to lots of badness.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)
Here's a useful risk-minimisation strategy for matching tests:

If you get it down to two things, and you have no idea which answer goes to which question .... write the same answer twice! Then you get half credit.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
Anti Theory

I generally don't like being against things. Here's an example:

Anti-semitism is quite evil. However, I am not anti-anti-semitism. Rather, I am pro-Jewish.

The difference is between fighting a cause, and simply living my life and recognising the value in good things, and supporting those things.

I do not consider incidental "opposition" (opposing things that get in the way of doing something nice) or explaining why something is wrong to try and help someone understand stuffz better to violate this principle.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (3)
Inverse Theory

Evolution requires truth to function. Evolution progresses towards truth. The inverse view may be complete and stable but it is not true by the normal use of the word.

The term inverse theory originally came from the following notion: an idiotarian is a person who needs an anti-idiotarian to tell her/him what white is, so s/he can call it black. I don't think this is the right definition for idiotarian, but I do think it's a useful idea and deserving of a word. Moral inverter is fitting.

(I've been using 'view' and 'moral view' interchangeably. I just used 'moral inverter' for someone who inverted a physical fact. Basically, I don't think there's any particular difference. Because people twist their factual theories according to their moral ones.)

If a moral inverter's view is not true, s/he cannot evolve it. So, to create it, s/he must find a true view to reverse.

But how can we reconcile this with the notion that someone holding on to a part of the inverse view, will, as s/he approaches a complete worldview, approach the inverse? Well, if an inverter has a bunch of inverse theories in a sphere, s/he can compare new ones to the preexisting ones for consistency, and to see how well the theories mesh in terms of explanation. However, when approaching a completely new issue, won't the inverter be at a loss?

In a sphere, to make very much progress, one needs to have some notion of what truth means. It doesn't need to be explicit (in a language with symbols and grammar). Without some notion, how can one evaluate theories? One cannot. Of course, in all objective spheres, every person alive does have such a notion. But sometimes the notion is only marginally better than none at all. I would offer up aesthetics as an example of a sphere where people do not have a good conception of truth. I would offer up science as one where people have a very good conception of truth -- true scientific ideas correspond to physical reality.

If a practitioner of the good view approaches a new sphere, s/he will create some notion of truth, and try to make progress. If a practitioner of the inverse view approaches a new sphere, I do not expect her/him to create an inverted notion of truth -- an inverse-epistemology -- and make progress towards it. This is because no one wants to be bad.

Talk to an inverter. Ask her/him about her/his view in some sphere s/he hasn't thought about much -- try to get her/him to create a view. In my experience, s/he will likely be at a loss. This is because s/he does not have any epistemology to work with in the sphere. However, if I present my view, the inverter will no longer be lost. Her/his worldview is very clear that I must be opposed, and thus s/he will chronically disagree with me, and set about creating the inverse view of mine.

The word 'true' generally refers to the good view. But the inverse view can have its own meaning for truth. But few or no people actually adopt the inverse meaning for truth explicitly. It is very difficult to adopt, because no one wants to be bad.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (9)
Epistemology

Some people believe that the truth is manifest for all to see, if only they would look. Under this view, anyone who does not see the truth, must be bad. So, if you ever hear someone arguing that their view is self-evident or obvious, be wary -- s/he either thinks you are intentionally bad or s/he is inconsistent.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)
Read this. IMAO is great! It's humour with a significant amount of truth in it, that expresses an important and generally ignored point.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)
curi: Write about me some more.
Elliot: What?
curi: I said I want attention, bitch!
Elliot: That's lovely.
curi: People pay attention to cursing, right?
Elliot: I dunno.
curi: Fuck you.
Elliot: -_-o [That's a sweatdrop. So is ^_^;]
Lia: Hey, I was just reading, and I found out people in Israel are killed like all the time. That's awful.
Elliot: You mean murdered.
Lia: Yes, you're right. That's an important distinction.
Isyn: This other piece says the Israelis are oppressive murderers, and their only casualties come from freedom fighters.
curi: Blood Libel!
Isyn: What?
curi: Not only are the Jews oppressive murderers, but they steal children in the night, because they need the blood of gentile children for their best pastry recipes.
Isyn: Really?
curi: -_-o No.
Isyn: Do you think baby blood tastes good?
Elliot, curi, Lia: *anime fall*
Isyn: I was just asking...
Elliot: One point of note is that, if Israelis are often murdered, then whatever force Israel is using to fight terrorists and murderers is insufficient.
curi: Only hippies don't like Israel, and they don't like self defense either, so that's a pointless point.
Lia: curi!
curi: What?
Lia: Just because hippies smell doesn't mean you should slander them all the time.
curi: It's not like they will defend themselves ;-p
Elliot: Yes they will. They aren't really pacifists. They just say that when it suits them. They don't seem to have any problem supporting mass murdering tyrants, when that suits them.
curi: If they defended themselves, and won, they would no longer be able to play the victim. And as they support the unsuccessful, they would have to take my side after beating me up.
Isyn: *goofy grin*
curi: What?
Isyn: I was just imagining you getting beat up by a couple of hippies.
curi: *whining* Hippies would not be able to beat me up! I would kick their asses.
Isyn: Sure ya would.
curi: Don't make me come over there.
Isyn: Are you saying you don't even have free will?
curi: That's it...
Elliot: -_-o Hey, Lia, hit that switch.
Lia: *flips switch*
Camera: *fades out as curi jumps Isyn*

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
I want to respond to Perry de Havilland's Samizdata piece, found here. It's in italics with comments interspersed.

Many of the anti-war protesters has been carrying placards with the slogan 'Not In My Name'. Well if you voted in the UK, regardless of whether it was for Labour or Conservative or LibDem, then you gave your consent to the system which taxes me without my consent,

Voting for someone does not make one responsible for what s/he does. Voting at all does not make one responsible for any injustices of the State. A vote for a candidate only means that the voter would prefer that candidate to the others.

so I suppose I am robbed in 'your' name.

One difference between taxes and robbery, is that reasonable people generally are coerced by robbery, and generally are not coerced by taxes.

I was disarmed (by a Tory government) and forbidden to effectively defend myself in 'your' name. My rights to own property and control my own labour and capital are abridged into meaninglessness in 'your' name.

There is no system under which knowing better is sufficient for a wise one's ideas to be implemented -- save a tyranny with that wise one in charge.

A libertarian utopia is not the natural state of affairs which government came along and destroyed. Rights are not self-evident. And it is folly to expect the same people who support policies to take away rights, [thinking they are not rights at all] to in the absence of government, respect those same rights.

So when you say say about a war against the Ba'athist socialists of Iraq "Not In My Name", please forgive me if I really do not give a damn if something gets done by the state that you do not like.

Suppose they were responsible for various bad things. Would that make them wrong about the war, or be reason to disregard their view of the war? No.

I do not think George Bush and Tony Blair want to topple Saddam Hussain due to an abiding concern for the Iraqi people, but frankly I really do not care why the statists who tax me are going to do it,

This retreat from explanation speaks volumes.

just that they do it.

So, if the war was done for utterly immoral reasons, Perry would support it just as much as if it was done for moral reasons.

Provided there is a net gain in liberty in Iraq, and it is hard to see how that could not be the case post-Saddam, then I am in favour of the violent and hopefully fatal removal of the Ba'athist thugs.

Thus Perry declares the total amount of liberty in the world the ultimate good, and prior to morality. I imagine some troops explaining to the Iraqi soldiers that their death will bring about a net gain in liberty, and is thus good. And also explaining that fighting back will reduce the total liberty in the world, as compared to dying peacefully, and is thus wrong of them.

Do it for 'Freedom for Iraq', do it 'because Saddam is a threat', do it 'because of links to Al-Qaeda', do it 'because the voices in my head told me to'... I do not care. Just do it!

You can even do it in my name if you like.


I imagine some troops carrying a banner that reads, "In the name of Perry de Havilland, on account of the voices our insane leader hears, death to Iraqis!"

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
Rachel Lucas wrote a poem for me :-)

A Poem for Elliot:

Faulkner wrote a book I like
About sadness and August and light
My favorite phrase
The question I raised
Elliot got it right

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
There are a number of words I don't use in the standard way. For example, I use 'theory' very broadly. In general, I hope my meaning will become clear from my writing in general. But I use a very precise definition for 'coerce', so I'll give that now. It's from the TCS Glossary. The entry gives:

The psychological state of enacting one idea or impulse while a conflicting impulse is still active in one's mind.

In general, when one has conflicting theories, one adopts some temporary theory to avoid coercion. For example, one might stop and think about it. Or do one thing, while keeping the ability to switch choices open. However, people have limited creativity and this sometimes fails. Also, certain external circumstances can facilitate failure. Like being shot. (Conflicting theories along the lines of "I don't want to die" and "I haven't got a choice, so the other theory is wrong".)

Oh, and if you get robbed, you'll probably be coerced because you'll want to not be robbed, and also know that's pointless of you. However, if you get taxed, you probably won't be coerced, because it's easier to see taxes have some purpose and/or aren't worth the effort to fight, and thus reject the "I don't want to be taxed" theory causing the coercion.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)
Article about the Nobel Peace Prize

Peace experts say that Americans like Ryan, Nunn or Lugar can probably forget 2003 because Carter won in 2002. The committee increasingly aims for an international scope.

"Two Americans in a row would be too much," said Irwin Abrams, an expert on the prize and professor emeritus at Antioch University, Ohio.


Fucking racists. (among other things)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)
Watch this about the peace protests.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
The concept of minimum necessary force (MNF) is one which many libertarians accept, but few can defend. There is a right amount of force for a situation. In the limit, the minimum right amount, maximum right amount, and right amount are all the same. Not in the limit, MNF means erring on the side of using too little force. But why do that? Why not err on the side of too much force, to be sure we get the job done? Or better yet, not err either way.

And don't tell me MNF is right because it's self-evident, or I will have to WRITE BIG CAPITAL LETTERS AT YOU. mwahahaha!

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)
The non-aggression principle (NAP) is one which many libertarians accept, but few can defend. It states that it is wrong to initiate force or threat of force. This is, for situations where it applies, meant to replace a moral analysis.

Morality is knowledge about making choices. It tells us which are right and wrong to make. It tends to be quite complex, and we certainly don't know everything about it.

Now, to assert the NAP requires some argument that, in all situations, the right choice is not to initiate force. Regardless of the details. I've never heard such an argument. Does anyone know it?

(I know some people like the spirit of the NAP, and don't actually pay attention to what it says. I don't think they should support it, but acknowledge they don't need the argument I request.)

And don't tell me the NAP is right because it's self-evident, or I will have to WRITE BIG CAPITAL LETTERS AT YOU. mwahahaha!

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

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Anti Theory

Morality is more important than any other concerns. It should come first in our thinking. It should come last in our thinking. And it should dominate over our thinking.

(To avoid confusion, for many issues, like doing science, morality usually just says to use true epistemology and do a good job, or something rather minimal.)

Many people oppose the war. And virtually all of them do not temper this opposition with morality. First, the war is wrong and will be opposed. Then maybe later we can talk about little detailed bits of morality that pale in comparison to The Cause. This leads to the anti-war folk saying anything they can to oppose war, moral or not. And thus they say false things. And dishonest things. And meaningless things. And things that sound catchy. And things they don't understand. And demonstrate no intellectual integrity.

Of course, most of them deny morality exists, and few value anything. Many would claim morality is a matter of opinion, or that it's just a religious idea (as if the source of an idea could make it wrong). Why do I say they value nothing? Well, we know they don't value peace, happiness, liberty, non-violence, or getting their facts right. (Those tortures taking place in Iraq right now sure are peaceful...) They defend the unsuccessful, but I don't think they actually value failure. It's just an easy way to pretend.

Morality first applies to perfectly good people to, in realistically useful ways. Like I want hits. And if that was primary, I might be tempted to lie, or spam, or ... well I don't know, but if I was a bad person I'm sure I'd think of something. And throwing these out because of self-interest (well, if I spam, maybe that will annoy people and I'll get less hits) is not the way to go. Even if that calculation, in the limit, gets the same answers, it'd be wrong to waste that much computing resources on it.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (5)
Some people expect lots of collateral damage in the war on Iraq. They are wrong, but let's ignore that a moment. Would this actually be any reason to oppose the war?

Well, if the dead civilians come from immoral leaders ordering schools bombed .... yes, that's something to oppose.

But if it comes as part of the fight, as part of the unavoidable cost to defeating evil, then of course it is no reason to oppose war.

So, what we discover is, this "reason" has no substance. It depends on another claim. And it adds no useful information: we already know to oppose wars by murderous folk, and support wars by the righteous.

So, opposing the war based on too much collateral damage, is just judging the US to be morally bad, combined with hiding one's meaning behind a smokescreen.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)
The importance of morality in every day life is striking. For example, in team games of Warcraft 3. Players will be paired with people they don't know, and required to coordinate their forces and share their resources for victory. Teams that bitch at each other, and refuse to defend each other's bases, tend to lose badly. Teams that get along, prosper.

Or, compare these two scenarios:

I need 5 more gold to buy an item. I ask my partners for the money, and wait a while, and eventually they tell me they "need the money" because they are saving for something they'll get later. I explain I'll pay them back soon. After a long delay, and wasted time, I give up. I go kill stuff and get 5gp, walk back to town, and finally get my item.

Alternatively, a partner gives me 5gp right away. I get the item, use it to kill stuff faster, and then pay my partner back, and need not return to town.

(Not that paying each other back should be important, everyone should just give all their money to whoever happens to be at a store ... but that's just too much to expect of random people.)

Another way morality helps, is over the course of many games, moral people improve more. They are accustomed to solving problems, and when something goes wrong, they figure out how to do better next time. Alternatively, some people, upon failure, get mad and resentful.

Like, some people think advice is an insult, as if they aren't good enough. Well, truth is, they are not perfect, and their arrogance only makes them stay bad.

The effect of all this is so great, that simply by figuring out what to do, sharing gold, and coordinating our efforts, my friends and I can easily win with 2 or 3 players vs 5 players on certain maps.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)


curi: Yay! The camera's on! Look at me!
Others: -_-o
Isyn: I just read this. Help!
Elliot: Morality is knowledge about making choices.
Isyn: Uh huh.
Elliot: So what does that have to do with God?
Isyn: If God didn't decree which choices are better and worse, then who did?
curi: Me.
Elliot: No one did. Just like no one decreed that there is a keyboard in my lap. But it is there.
Isyn: So how do we know which choices are right?
Elliot: Well, ummmm, the thing is we don't really know that explicitly and fully.
Isyn: If you don't know what is right and wrong, how do you know right and wrong exist?
Elliot: Kill Lia.
Isyn: What? No!
Elliot: Why not?
Isyn: I don't want to.
Elliot: Why don't you want to?
Isyn: I don't know that explicitly.
Elliot: You prefer some things to others.
Isyn: Yes.
Elliot: So you act *as if* morality exists.
Isyn: What?
Elliot: If some choices (ie not killing Lia) are better than others, then morality exists.
Isyn: Oh. But isn't that just my self-interest?
Elliot: What does self-interest have to do with anything?
Isyn: Well, isn't it different from morality?
Elliot: They aren't mutually exclusive.
Isyn: I mean, what if I follow my self-interest instead of morality?
Elliot: Then, I'd say you have a moral theory along the lines of: whatever is in my self interest is morally right. But you don't have that theory.
Isyn: Where do you get off telling me what theories I hold?
Elliot: It's just interesting that a number of people *claim* to hold a self-interest based morality, but do not.
curi: You need a thesis.
Elliot: What?
curi: Just saying a bunch of random true things is confusing. And you don't expand them very much.
Elliot: How should I expand them?
curi: Like, explain them more clearly..?
Elliot: They are clear to me.
curi: Not to everyone.
Elliot: But I don't know what points others will miss.
curi: Oh.
Elliot: Yep. Not gonna spend my time slaying random false theories. Need good reason to think someone actually holds it and is listening. Or for it to come up in explanation of something true.
Elliot: Am gonna spend my time sleeping. Bye.
Lia: Sleep well.
curi: She finally said something.
Isyn: Shut up.
curi: Make me, bitch.
Elliot: shhhhh
curi: Are you trying to tell me what to do?
Elliot: Turn off the camera, now.
curi: *turns camera off*

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
Minimum Necessary Force

A certain variance *on either side* of the right amount of force is reasonable -- only people who use significantly more than the right amount should be prosecuted. Also, the right amount to aim for is more than the "necessary" amount, strictly speaking, because we shouldn't have to take undue risks. The minimum necessary force concept pulls against both these points, and is thus highly misleading.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)
On LGF, it said protest organisers estimated 200,000 thousand people at the one in San Francisco. Aerial photos show about 65,000 peak. (Source Here)

How should we explain the protestors ignoring the facts? I suggest my anti-theory explantion: because they are more focussed on their cause then on morality. And they think lying will further their cause.

And in a direct sense, it's hard to tell. Lying has advantages (because people will think the ideas are more popular than they are) and they disadvantages (because people will get annoyed with their exaggerations and stop listening). And thus, calculating whether to lie, based on how it furthers their cause, is at best, an expensive calculation prone to error. Not at best (and in reality), their approach is, even in the limit, divergent from morality aka wrong.

If we just look at the morality of the situation, though, it's easy. They are attempting to mislead and manipulate people. End of story.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)
Dale Amon of Samizdata writes:

I don't always agree with what SecDef Rumsfeld says and I find his statements on volunteer human shields to be particularly wrong:

"And I want to note, again, it is a violation of the law of armed conflict to use noncombatants as a means of shielding potential military targets -- even those people who may volunteer for this purpose. Iraqi actions to do so would not only violate this law but could be a -- could be considered a war crime in any conflict. Therefore, if death or serious injury to a noncombatant resulted from these efforts, the individuals responsible for deploying any innocent civilians as human shields could be guilty of grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions."

There is no such thing as a "voluntary human shield".

But there is. If I voluntarily use myself as a shield, I am one.

The words cancel each other out and leave... just another ordinary enemy combatant.

Not a combatant (no gun...), and not ordinary, but yes an enemy.

Any British, American, Australian or person of whatever nationality who makes a decision, of their own free will, to intentionally place themselves in harms way in defense of a combatant's facilities should be treated like any other member of that combatant's forces.

Rumsfeld is completely right. Their attack on America is to try and hurt the US politically, through immoral means. It's committing suicide and blaming the US. (Reminiscent of suicide attacks in Israel). So, it definitely should be a war crime, and they should not be treated like any other enemy combatant. You don't shoot people without guns without a damn good reason. And we won't go around killing these people. That'd be horribly immoral. They know that. That's the whole point of their attack: they want to remain in a position where they shouldn't be killed, while doing everything they can to provoke their own deaths. (Think Palestinians throwing stones at Israeli soldiers and tanks.) Rumsfeld is right that if some die because they get in the way, it's not our fault (morally), but that's true only as long as we don't intentionally kill them.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
Here's an explanation for why, in some domains, women may find they need to work harder to prove themselves than men do (it works in reverse too, for other fields):

Parents (wrongly) gender-stereotype their children, and treat boys and girls differently. This results in boys and girls, on average, having different skill-sets. Employers and bosses know this.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)
By reader request, Asceticism

Ascetic is the opposite of hedonistic. It means scorning worldly desires and pleasures, and self-denial. It's sometimes thought to create spiritual discipline, or sometimes just someone's tendency.

The spiritual discipline version is on the same order of magnitude of absurdity as theism.

One common cause of ascetic qualities is arrogance. Another is anti-capitalism. TV is for the masses of capitalist drones, to keep them mindless. Products are a trap for lesser people, and I shall avoid them. Toys are for low brow kids; mine will enjoy nature and possibly some books and be free. Look at all those Joe Schmoes wasting the money they slaved away for at McDonald's for a few minutes of pleasure, they won't fool me. blah blah blah

Joy is a great thing.

I suppose there is an important distinction that needs to be made now: some ascetics don't value joy, others simply have trouble creating much.

Feh, this isn't going well. Write comments with questions, I'll just make this really simple.... To those who don't value joy: you're silly. To those who have trouble finding joy: I sympathise.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (11)
Relationship Theory

Some people like monogamy and marriage because it makes them feel safe. Their partner is not allowed to leave them, and not even allowed to look around for something better. And, if the partner does anyway, these people can now play victim, and most everyone will agree they were wronged. This is a bit perverse. For one thing, it seems to say "I'd rather you stay with me, than be as happy as possible, because I'm just that selfish."

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
Getting answers wrong isn't the only way to look an idiot. It's striking how effective asking the wrong questions can be.

"Is it invariably wrong to act selfish?"

"Is consequentialism or deontology right?"

"How certain does induction make us?"

"What's a certain statement?" (as in come up with one)

"What would make a good foundation for our knowledge?"

"What's more important, my joy, or starving children in Africa getting a meal?"

"Is love or happiness more important?"

"What if I have to go to the doctor, but my child doesn't want to wear his seatbelt, and I'm in a big hurry, then can I beat him?"

"Did you know that two thousand rain forest species go extinct every year?"

"Did you know that if we don't anchor Australia, a sea snail might be crushed?"

OK, some of these are kinda cheating, but some are incoherent philosophical garbage that a lot of otherwise reasonable people waste time thinking about.

(I don't think these examples are very good. As I don't spend my time on this kinda question, I'm not all that familiar with many of 'em. I tend to stop reading in disgust when I encounter them, and then forget about it.)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)
Just read this. I guess I agree that the government agency doing this stuff will probably get it all horribly wrong, and it's very abusable. But I was thinking, something similar could be right and good:

What if police see something suspicious, and just ask the guy what's up? I think our laws say you don't have to incriminate yourself or answer, and if you refuse, the police can't do anything. But a good person will recognise that what s/he did *was* a bit suspicious, and, taking into account privacy concerns, will want to tell the police some info to let them rest easy knowing s/he didn't do anything wrong. A good person will not say "I refuse to answer." At worst, a good person will think a bit and say "I really can't think of anything I can safely tell you b/c of privacy concerns, sorry." So, like, the general idea of trying to go after people who have all this nice shit and won't tell us where it came from and otherwise act like bad people, does make some sense.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
I went outside, walked a few blocks, entered a building, asked for some food, handed over a piece of paper, was given hot, good food 2-3 minutes later, and left. I didn't bring ID, and I didn't give my name.

It's wonderful.

Sitting in the public area were bins with hot sauce packets, napkins, sporks, drink tops, straws, and a soda machine. No security.

My order was set on the counter. I walked up and took it. No one checked my receipt.

It's amazing how peaceful our society is.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (3)
From here:

Bartlett roams around the White House grousing at everyone, including the government representatives from Khundu, whom he chews out as if they were grade schoolers in the principle's [sic] office.

*sigh*

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
Please Steal Some Oil For Us

by Staff Writer

"French oil companies, unlike US ones, are actually government owned. Or to put that another way, the French government unlike the US one, is actually oil-owned," the anonymous tipster whispered. This was just the beginning of an interesting phone call.

A little work turned up some interesting facts. It turns out that France is very reliant on oil imports, especially from the Middle East, and has none of its own oil. If the oil stops flowing from the Middle East, France would have a serious problem. In fact, France has the most to gain of any Western country from the resumption of a cheap and stable oil supply under a docile Iraqi leader.

The Washington Post reported(1): "It's pretty straightforward," said former CIA director R. James Woolsey, who has been one of the leading advocates of forcing Hussein from power. "France and Russia have oil companies and interests in Iraq. They should be told that if they are of assistance in moving Iraq toward decent government, we'll do the best we can to ensure that the new government and American companies work closely with them." But he added: "If they throw in their lot with Saddam, it will be difficult to the point of impossible to persuade the new Iraqi government to work with them."

The French establishment, still bitter about the loss of their North African colonies to the Arabs, cares about Arab oil not the Arab people. My anonymous leak said the whole anti-American attitude by the French is a media facade. "We see eye-to-eye with the Americans on nearly everything. But we need Middle Eastern oil, so we are forced to maintain the public image that appeals to the Arabs. By controlling the oil, they control us." He told me that most of the populace disagrees with many of the articles in the French press, but is sophisticated enough to read between the lines.

Perhaps the most shocking revelation was a phone call my anonymous source overheard. "I was going to his office, and I didn't realize he was in the middle of an important phone call. He didn't see me, and I stood outside the door to wait." The man being overheard is a top French government official, though I cannot disclose his name or specific position. He was speaking to a US diplomat. The content of the phone call is really amazing: "Please steal some oil for us, when you attack Iraq. We really need it." My source could not believe his ears! This was so important he felt compelled to share the information with the American press.

To return to the introduction, although it may not be literally true, the oil companies do have significant influence in the highest levels of the French government. They very much need a war on Iraq, but at the same time must keep the right image so that the entire Middle East continues to sell oil to France. It is a tricky double-bind, but the French are handling it impressively. Indeed, they had me fooled...until I got a phone call yesterday.

(1) http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A18841-2002Sep14.html

-------

If ya didn't get it, this is a joke. I wrote it September 2002. Ran into it again just now.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)
Here are some things that shouldn't be associated together, but often are:

Saddam staying in power and peace.

Capitalism and greed.

Commitment and sex.

Love and sex.

Morality and opposing kinky sex.

Morality and opposing "naughty" words.

Morality and God.

Leftists and caring.

"Disciplining" (read: hurting) children and love.

Spanking and learning.

Time-outs and learning.

School and learning.

USA and police state.

Israel and police state.

Tolerance and moral relativism.

Other Websites and Better Than Mine.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)
Just read a Den Beste piece here. It was going along nicely, getting stuff about right, and then out of nowhere came:

It's true that all powerful nations eventually decline

which just makes no sense at all. It seems to say that moral behavior will invariably self-destruct, which is to deny that morality exists. (Or I suppose it could deny that morality can lead to being powerful, which also basically means denying morality exists.)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)
Inspired by a comment on the last Relationship Theory thread:

Most of the time, I focus much much more on saying true things than saying a lot. There are notable exceptions, and it's important to try and say a lot when one wants to create new knowledge. But when explaining things I already know, or just talking randomly, my strong tendency is to be sure to get things right. One result is that, sometimes I say very little, or say things that seem trivial. "Horribly bad thing X, is awful, don't do it," or the like.

Anyway, the thing is, I think people often try to read a bit too much meaning into some of my writing. Really, most is not intended to be controversial. If you read my views on most issues, and go "duh" and agree, I'll be very happy, and you probably did not miss the point.

Also, sometimes I say things that are true, but often misused and abused in arguments for bad stuff. I know quite well that just because some people misuse a truth, doesn't make it any less true, and rely on this. Sadly, I'm often frustrated by people conflating the truth with the common assumptions about what it means. So, umm, don't do that (lol).

You may wonder about the use of a bunch of uncontroversial truths. One point is simply that although they really ought to be uncontroversial, and are among reasonable people, many aren't actually very popular :-/

The other is really a general approach to explaining things: start with simple, true statements to sketch out what the answer to some problem has to look like. Rule out the absurd and inconsistent, and maybe figure out on what continuum(s) and controversial "fact"(s) we must make a judgment on. So, basically, start with what we know. Then, look for a powerful explanation that fits with what we know (that will be controversial, and is what opponents ought to be arguing with).

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (3)
About stains: if it won't come out, it won't come out *on you* and is thus nothing much to worry about. (Unless you go somewhere fancy.)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
Replying to a comment by Sharon Ferguson from the thread about gender stereotypes:

I can tell none of you have children.

Just because some people choose to keep their personal lives, and especially their children's personal lives, private, does not mean they do not have children.

As to Authority of Experience, it's not valid. The truth of a statement, depends only on it's content. If an idiot says something true, it's still true. If an "authority" says something false, it's still false. How do we tell which is which? Argument about the subject matter, not about the speakers.

I knew I was having a girl. I painted her room BLUE.

Sounds perfectly reasonable. I like off-white myself.

One of her many gifts was a Tonka truck. For five years, it was kicked around her room, ignored. Finally was given to her baby boy cousin, who knew exactly what to do with it. My daughter always sneered at it.

The whole point of being a subtle, powerful, devious, gender stereo-type meme, is that you can overcome blue paint, and a few trucks. In fact, many gender stereo-type memes are so highly evolved, that they still win out vs. parents who intentionally try to go against the stereotypes.

My daughter loves to laugh and jump and play and climb. But she is particularly concerned when someone gets hurt or knocked down or when someone tries to bully her. Call it personality.

I will, thank you.

Call it genes.

Genes code for various things, including perhaps the structure of one's brain. However, just like many computers made of different parts, behave the same way, so too do human brains despite structural differences.

But babies in general know from the start what they like. And girls tend to like dolls. And boys tend to like trucks.

This is an assertion that I'm wrong, but not an argument.

I was what you consider a tomboy. I was thoroughly disinterested in barbie dolls. When I got older though I did want to collect porcelain dolls...look but dont play with them. I always felt silly trying to feed milk to an inanimate object. But I have never considered myself anything less than feminine.

The gender stereotyping thesis does not say that every last person will act according to the stereotypes. It says they are subtly and not-so-subtly encouraged (and sometimes forced, coerced, ordered) to do it, by parents and others.

I should say what needs to be looked for is MERIT. there are some things women CANT do...and some things men cant do.

There are differences in physical body makeup, but needn't be any in personality. I agree employers and bosses should look for merit.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
Here we find a perfectly decent article on why anti-aging research and medicine are good. However, one bit stuck out at me. The author writes:

I seriously doubt that people granted longer lives will fritter away their extra time watching reruns of Gilligan's Island (though some might, and it would be their business). Instead, they may well engage in longer-run projects such as ecological restoration or space exploration.

The problem, is the parenthetical. The author considers it none of his business what people do in their private lives, to the point that he doesn't consider any options wrong.

There is a common idea, which asserts that the public domain is objective, but the private domain is subjective. It's wrong to rape people, to give speeches inciting murder, and to run a red light. But in your private life, anything goes. Watch whatever TV you want, in whatever amounts. Be productive, or not. It's a matter of taste.

Now, this idea has been fruitful. It allowed us to have law and order, without curse-word-police and productivity-police stationed within our homes, telling us to expand our vocabulary and sleep less, or perhaps to stop drinking beers, or whatever.

However, from a philosophical point of view, the idea is simply not true. Choices can be wrong. Whether they are in the public or private domain doesn't matter.

Returning to the article, the author was arguing against people who feared immoral behavior. And he told them that, in the private sphere, he endorses immoral behavior as everyone's right. And his best defense against the possibility of immorality is that he doubts anyone will do it. What he should have said is something like, "If watching Gilligan's Island is the wrong thing to do, why will people want to spend their time on it?"

More on this last bit in next entry.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
premise: good values make their holder's life better
premise: people want nice lives
conclusion: people hold values they think are good

scenario: X thinks Y has bad values (X and Y are people)

Applying the conclusion to the scenario, we discover that: Y considers his values to be good

premise: X and Y have different values
premise: different values can't both be right
conclusion: X or Y (or both) are wrong

So, if Y knows at least one of them is wrong, and considers himself right, he must consider X's values to be wrong.

So we discover that when X declares that Y's values are wrong, what we are really looking at is a two-way dispute. X and Y are fallible. X does not have authority. So, to impose his values on Y, X needs more than to feel really sure. He needs some non-arbitrary explanation of why it's right for him to impose his values. And it must pass a simple test: it can't work in reverse. As X can claim authority, so can Y. As X can claim feeling sure, so can Y. As X can claim divine inspiration, so can Y. etc

(A non-reversible justification for value imposing is "he's attacking me" which gets us self-defense)

What does this have to do with the pro-death people objecting to TV reruns? Well, before they try to impose their anti-rerun values on others, they need a non-arbitrary, non-reversible justification. They don't have one.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
Have faith in your values. Don't expect people to disagree. True ideas win arguments. True ideas win converts. True ideas get popular. Good values reward you. Bad values "reward" their holders (no need to do anything to them).

And as to "rewarding" holders of bad values -- it's a form of imposing one's values, and thus needs a non-arbitrary, non-reversible justification.

To explain "Don't expect people to disagree" this comes up a lot with parenting. Like people will ask "What if my child wants to commit murder?" Well, why the fuck would he want to do that? You're right that murder is wrong, aren't you? Yes, you are, so why expect child to disagree..? Comes up with the pro-death people too, who think it'd be wrong to waste extra life watching TV, but expect people to do it...

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
It was suggested that the US flag shouldn't be used as a pro-war symbol. The person who suggested this is explicitly pro-American and anti-war. So, if they don't have to go together, how can it be right to use the first to support the other?

The problem with this objection, thus far, is that it has no content!! For any two propositions A and B, using A to show support for B, could be objected to on the basis that someone could support A and not B. But we know that's not right because propositions can (via some explanation) support other ones.

So, to make the "don't use the flag to support the war case," what's needed is to demonstrate that the explanation connecting the two is wrong (not simply to have someone support the flag and not the war, because that person may be wrong/inconsistent).

Anyway, a simple reason that supporting America implies supporting the war, is that the war will make America safer (Iraq funds and supports terrorism). Or in reverse, the anti-war position of wanting Americans to die is not consistent with being pro-America.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
Morality

Here is one of the best general theories about morality:

If a moral theory fails by its own standards, it is wrong.

Combined with some epistemology like "If two moral principles contradict, they can't both be right," we can reject many, many bad moral theories.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
Numbers exist. My computer exists. I can touch my computer, but not a number. Prima facie, their must be at least two kinds of existence. I go with physical and explanatory.

A cave exists in both ways. There is the physical existence of various elementary particles at various points in space at a given time. And there is the explanation that it is a cave.

If Jack and Jill go to the park, there is the physical movement of their atoms to the park, and the explanation that friends are having a picnic. The physical description doesn't even know the location titled "park" is a public place with grass and trees. It just has coordinates in space.

Anyway, what this entry is really about is Relationship Theory:

Premise: "Relationship" is an explanatory term. It does not describe a physical event.

Obligations are explanatory. They also cannot be deduced from pure logic (because they depend on things in the real world). What they are, is when certain events happen, what is right to do changes; obligations are alternations in the moral landscape. For example, agreeing to meet David at the park, changes the moral landscape by making showing up at the park the right thing to do in scenarios where it otherwise would not have been.

Premise 2: To be true, explanations of why an obligation exists must, at least indirectly, refer to something physical.

Conclusion: Relationships, in and of themselves, do not create obligations.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
Relationship Theory

Premise: Jack and Jill have a relationship.

Challenge: Name one obligation Jack has to Jill. "To act rightly," does not count, as all people should do that all the time anyway.

My Solution: Can't be done. Details of some physical events needed. (Comment if you have another...)

Conclusion: Relationships, in and of themselves, do not create obligations.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)
Morality

Imagine you traveled back in time and met Bob the Caveman. And imagine you tried to tell him about cars. "They're made out of metal...umm, it's like rock but harder, and they are empty inside, and they have wheels...these are like feet, and they go really fast and they are powered by fire. They can cover a day's walk in the time it takes to eat a meal." Bob might find this a bit far out, but it's within the realm of possibility.

Now, imagine you tried to tell him that people drive them around according to very strict rules, and though there are millions, going very fast, they rarely hit each other. Everyone follows little bits of paint on the ground -- that you have to look for to notice -- and obeys colored lights. Now Bob would laugh. How could so many people be so organised, with very little enforcement, just some signs, lights, and paint!? How can they, when two lanes merge, weave cars together one by one -- acting in unison with total strangers? How can they take turns at a stop sign, and let pedestrians walk in front of them? How does anyone ever manage to change lanes in heavy traffic? The amount of consent created over driving, is far more amazing than the cars themselves.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)
curi: Go to sleep.
Elliot: not tired
curi: write a blog then
Elliot: about..?
curi: i dunno
Elliot: brilliant
curi: hmpf, it's not my fault you're boring
Elliot: What, bitch?
curi: I called you boring.
Elliot: ...
curi: Go outside.
Elliot: It's cold outside.
curi: so wear some clothes
Elliot: gah, I hate you
curi: wow, i got skillz
Elliot: you're proud of this?
curi: can you do it?
Elliot: umm -_-o
curi: thought so
Isyn: I can
curi: no, when you say mean things you *mean it*
Isyn: your point being?
curi: that's no fun
Isyn: fuck you
curi: QED
Isyn: fuck you
Lia: umm, guys, you know you're on air?
Isyn: whatever
curi: what!?
Elliot: *^_^* yeah, I kinda thought I'd get a free blog off you people embarrassing yourselves
curi: *outraged, strides towards Elliot*
curi: embarrassing myself!?
curi: *trips on rug and falls on face*
Elliot: teehee
Isyn: you suck, curi
curi: sheesh, Isyn, can't you tell the difference?
Isyn: What are you talking about?
curi: *exaggerated sigh*
Lia: Isyn, he means that, while everyone knows he's a sweetie, and nothing he says is serious, you seem to be mean
curi: Me a sweetie? I think someone has a crush.
Isyn: (sounding all formal) For this grievous offense against my honour, I challenge you to mortal combat. Choose your weapon.
others: -_-o
Elliot: I wonder if my blog should be blood-free
curi: that'd be boring
curi: I mean moreso
Lia: Your blog is wonderful, Elliot
Elliot: *beams*
Isyn: Hello!?
curi: ok, ok. I pick, ummm, a spork.
Isyn: You're going to dual me with a spork?
curi: I will pwn you with my spork, bitch.
Elliot: (to camera) pwn is a stronger version of own. You weren't worth owning, so I pawned you... :-D
Isyn: Well, I choose a longsword.
curi: Hey, if I find a dragon named 'spork', could he fight for me?
others: -_-o
Isyn: Scared, are we?
curi: yeah, that's it...
curi: Hey, Elliot, I got an idea. you should make this a teaser, and then write the fight later.
Elliot: why?
curi: cause you don't have a clue what to write, and I was making an excuse for you. sheesh, dumbass.
Elliot: hmmm
Isyn: *prays*
Elliot's Living room: *fades out*
Grassy Field: *fades in*
Audience: holy shit, a prayer just worked?
Elliot: hmmm, maybe i should write char bios
Audience: ya think!?
Isyn: *draws longsword*
curi: *draws plastic spork*
Narrator: The noon sun beat down on the two combatants, shining off Isyn's chainmail, sword, and shield. curi was notably lacking in metal attire, but at least his spork was clean. Isyn had a murderous glint in his eye. curi looked amused. Elliot was busy hastily writing char bios. Lia appeared worried, but chose not to interfere.
curi: blah blah blah. what a terrible narration.
Narrator: Excuse me?
curi: *stabs the narrator in the neck with his spork*
Narrator: *dies messily*
curi: Alright, so, picture some dumbass decked out in heavy stuff, with a sword and a shield, but no helmet. Picture some grass, and some trees in the background, and a river off to the side that I intend to dump Isyn in (I hear it's fun to swim in armor, and I do want him to have a nice time). And picture me, handsome as can be, decked out with a bloody spork--
Isyn: (shouting) For Amilise! For Lia!
Isyn: *charges*
curi: How rude!
Elliot: *pauses time*
Elliot: More later. *waves*

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (3)
Character Bios

Elliot: Me but virtually always serious.
curi: Me but less restrained.
Isyn: Dungeons and Dragons character. Grew up poor on farm; wanted power; joined cult and became priest of Amilise Siliv. Wants to learn arcane magic. Some semi-evil tendencies.
Lia: D&D character too. Real name is Caeli Melarn. Think of a paladin, but more holy and more rare. She's also a princess.
Amilise Siliv: A Goddess.
Other People: They don't matter much. *g*

UPDATE: Silly me, I totally forgot to explain that Lia and Isyn are romantically involved, which is why Isyn got mad when curi said Lia had a crush on curi.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
Gil wrote in the Tentativity comments here:
I think that until there is consensus that the right thing to do is refrain from coercing other people, then people will use whatever wealth and power they have to try to do just that.

I replied: I think this statement is exactly what's wrong with mainstream libertarianism. It has both the conspiracy problem (the view that people with power, want to abuse it) and the non-coercion problem (the view that non-coercion is prior to morality and self-evident).

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)
(I really do mean to update more. Internet access has been a bit sporadic. This should change in a few days.)

By reader request, Torture

curi: *pulls out a whip*
Elliot: no no, the idea is to write about it
curi: it's not very hard. i can't imagine someone too stupid to work out the basics actually capturing anyone.
Elliot: no no, like the morality of torturing people. like they caught a terrorist guy. should they torture him? is that kosher? etc
curi: can we do a skit for a visual aid?
Elliot: ummm, let's not
curi: how dull! *walks off*

So anyway, given that I don't care about the NAP, torture sounds just fine to me. It's not a good idea to hurt people for no reason, but torture *with a goal*, makes sense. Torture is pretty nasty, so it'd be best to only use in extreme cases. Terrorists qualify. Umm, questions?

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
It is a common practice at schools, to have debates and assign kids to each side. Defending a side one disagrees with, is supposed to be a good skill. What are they missing? Both that there is a truth of the matter, and that to argue against what one thinks true, means to say things one thinks false (or to avoid saying anything substantive, which I suppose is rather common). Fucking relativists.

Going to sleep. Mean to try and write curi/Isyn dual soon after I wake.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)
curi: And this one time, at bandit camp
Elliot: hey, it's kinda sunny out
Lia: yeah, it's pretty nice
curi: Hey!!! Pay attention to me!
Isyn: *running towards curi, brandishing longsword*
curi: eek! *starts running in circles to avoid Isyn*
Isyn: *stops chasing curi*
curi: heheh. armor sux.
Isyn: *begins chanting in the tongue of dragons*
curi: d00d, the audience has no clue what you're saying. how is this gonna entertain them?
curi: on second thought, you do sound a bit funny ;p
Isyn: *points at curi and intones a final, sharp word*
curi: *stops moving entirely*
Isyn: *walks slowly over to curi, savouring his victory*
Lia: Hey, errr, Isyn, I think you made your point. Want to stop this now?
Elliot: *tries to hide his smile*
Isyn: *grimly strides on*

curi, an unmoving figure, in a shiny silver cloak that contrasts strongly with the natural surroundings, remained frozen through Isyn's approach. He remained frozen as Isyn gripped his sword in two hands, and brought it back. He gave no reaction to Lia's increasingly frantic shouts of dismay. He did not seem to notice Elliot's stifled laughter.

leftist: Why is Elliot laughing? Obviously he's a warmonger and delights in blood.
Isyn: *swings sword*
Elliot: Maybe I just know more than you, dumbass. Go away 'fore I shoot you.
Sword: *passes through curi*
curi: fades out of existence as the sword hits him
Isyn: What!? *curses*
leftist: Shoot me!? Shoot me!?!?!? You really are bloody! If I know my history, and I think I do, there was someone else who liked shooting people. His name was Hitler.
Elliot: Whatever. *shoots leftist dead*
Elliot: *glances at Lia*
Lia: What? I don't mind. He was possessed by a demon anyway.
Elliot: Really!?
Lia: Wait, you shot him without knowing that?
Elliot: -_-o
Isyn: *looking around confused*
Isyn: *feels a pain in the back of his neck and spins 'round*
curi: teehee, I sporked you!
Isyn: (scowling) swings longsword
curi: *dances back*
Isyn: *presses forward, swinging artfully and masterfully, relying on training and muscle memory, while ignoring his emotions*
curi: *dodges each strike in the nick of time, moving inhumanly fast*
curi: (talking while dodging) It wasn't very nice to use magic on me.
curi: Not gonna answer me bitch? Well, it wasn't. I might even think you were trying to kill me or something.
Isyn: *does a feint, then lunges forward. it looks like there is no way curi could evade the coming blow*
curi: *wraps cloak around self, laughing*
sword: passes through curi as he fades out.
Isyn: *begins casting a divination to find curi's location*
curi: (putting an arm over Lia's shoulders) Didya know you're really hot when you're worried? :-D
Lia: (pushing curi's arm away) Shut up, curi >_<
curi: Hey, can I eat the leftist?
Elliot and Lia: -_-o
curi: What? I've never been a cannibal before.
Elliot: Go see if he's signed up for cryo. If not, enjoy.
Lia: Umm, aren't you forgetting something?
curi: Isyn? Whatever.
Isyn: *finishes divination*
Isyn: Aha, I've found you fiend. You shall not escape me again.
curi: d00d, I run faster than you. how ya gonna catch me?
Isyn: *starts taking off armor*
curi: *sneaks up while Isyn is pulling chainmail over head, and pokes him in the belly with spork*
Isyn: oww!
curi: heheh, bitch
Isyn: *gets armor off, grabs up sword, and starts attacking*
curi: *dodging about* This is getting old.
Elliot: yeah, I agree. and we wouldn't want bored readers. sum1 do sumtin fast.
Lia: curi, why don't you apologise?
curi: You want me to apologise? *jumps back* Sounds like someone is worried about my safety. *ducks a slash*
Lia: shut up, curi
Elliot: wait, that's a good idea. if you apologise, there is no stain on Isyn's honour.
curi: If Lia didn't like me, she'd be a freak. To take my comments back, would be an insult.
others: *anime fall*
Elliot: Why not apologise?
curi: I don't wanna
Elliot: you'd rather do all the work of avoiding that sword?
curi: it's rather easy
curi: *slips on some wet grass and falls on back*
Isyn: *grabs a pouch off his belt, and dumps the dust contained within on curi*
curi: *cough, sneeze*
Isyn: *stabs curi*
curi: *fades out*
Isyn: last time i buy anti-teleportation dust from a Used Potion Salesman
curi: I shouldn't have to apologise. I did nothing wrong.
Elliot: I suppose you'd also say you shouldn't be attacked, yes?
curi: yeah. Isyn is acting badly.
Elliot: And you know better, and know how to end this incident, but instead intentionally perpetuate his misbehavior. How right is that?
curi: it's fun, and he deserves it
Elliot: part of morality is wanting the right things
curi: I shouldn't want fun?
Elliot: specious
curi: so ya hold it's better ta just apologise than let this go on?
Elliot: indeed
curi: but what about *my* honour?
Elliot: what's dishonourable about doing the right thing?
curi: yo, Isyn-d00d, sorry 'bout hitting on your girl.
Elliot: Why'd you use a possessive?
Isyn: d00d? O_o;;
Lia: Poor, curi. Very poor.
curi: ok ok, sheesh
curi: *takes a knee* Isyn Kaitsol, Priest of Amilise, and Mage of Great Renown, I humbly beseech the, accept this conveyance of sorrow at the harm I have caused you and yours. I am but a simple fool, with many errors in my ways; I meant not to wrong you.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
Here's an example of a moral theory that fails by it's own standards:

I'm going to spank my children, to help them develop good character.

Note this does not fail by pure logic. But it does fail by explanation. Our best explanations tell us, the basic effect of spanking, is fucking children up badly.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
There are two bad philisophical ideas called Consequentialism and Deontology. The first means judging moral theories, based on their consequences. The second, means judging moral theories, based on principles.

One wonders how one is supposed to judge consequences without having any principles to judge them on.

And one wonders how one is supposed to decide what principles are good, without thinking about their consequences.

Also, in the limit, the two approaches are convergent. ("In the limit" is such a great phrase! Thanks Kolya ^_^)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
Yet Another Problem With The NAP

At airports, they say if you leave your bag unattended, it will like get confiscated. (I'm sure you can get it back after it's checked, or sumtin). Is leaving a bag unattended using force? Not in standard English...

I know, I know, leaving it unattended is negligent and risks other people, but at some point of warping and twisting a phrase to mean things it doesn't say, we gotta give it up.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
http://www.samizdata.net/blog/archives/003109.html#008951

David Carr and many others (including myself) attack Blair for considering the adoption of a European Constitution. Its very existence is an affront to national sovereignty.

Saying something is wrong, because it's an afront to national sovereignty? That's statist. But this is coming from a libertarian, who if he's anything like the rest of the samizdata community, is normally rabidly anti-state.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
Here's a theory: if two people mostly agree about epistemology, this will allow them to agree to a large extent in all other spheres.

They will be able to agree what should be uncontroversial, and about many forms of criticism. They will agree on what facts are reasonable to believe, even if they choose differently. When there is a continuum of positions on a subject, even if they do not agree about quite what the right spot is, they will be able to understand why the other is further in whatever direction, and agree that each is being reasonable, even if perhaps mistaken. Why reasonable, if wrong? Because they will know that their arguments for the specific place on the continuum, are not so uncontroversial and precise as to necessitate reasonable people to agree.

My current view is that the worst type to person to try and talk to about serious stuff, is not the one with some bad moral theories, but rather the one with bad epistemic theories. (Note that a certain minimum morality is required to hold a good epistemology, so moral inverters are not gonna pass my epistemic criterion. Mainly what's required for good epistemology, is valuing truth-seeking, or something along those lines. And note that valuing means people without values are out.)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)
I think smalltalk is only interesting with people one already has a deep relationship with, or sometimes for the sake of observing human behavior or some meta goal.

If the point of some way of interacting, is to let anyone get along, regardless of their merit, what the fuck good is that? (in the context of personal relationships and meeting people and hanging out and such -- obviously such a way would be nice for total strangers, as it'd mean no wars).

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
Sometimes, a bunch of independent groups, have the same goals in a field. How can this be explained?

Sometimes, each group is Good. People who are Right about a subject, will agree and want the same things to happen in that field. For example, the US, Israel, and Australia all want the same thing to happen in Iraq.

Another way it can happen, is for Logic Of Situation reasons. For example, "anti"-racist groups and secular humanist groups, both find the logic of their situation, as anti-American groups during a discussion of War on Iraq, to imply they should make asses of themselves opposing the war.

Of course, there is the conspiracy explanation, but this is generally a very bad one. This claims that they are secretly not independent groups. A real world example might be various terrorist organisations and various terrorist harbouring states. But you only call them independent, and think their links don't exist, if you are really silly.

There is the luck "explanation" which is true on rare occassions.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)
Parenting strategies that rely on parents being larger, cannot be right.

Parenting strategies that rely on children having bad memory, cannot be right.

Parenting strategies that rely on children always agreeing with the first idea a parent has, cannot be right.

In different situations, the answers to various questions that depend on the circumstances, can be different.

People who do not understand a proposition, can't know if it's horribly false or exceptionally true.

To live morally, requires creativity.

A mechanical parenting strategy, cannot be right.

People do not do things for no reason.

It cannot be right to ask someone to sacrifice infinately before retalliating.

It cannot be right to come kill me, for the purpose of going to the dentist.

To fully maximise the realisation of one's intentions, one must be willing to change one's intentions to ones that are better realisiable.

Statements like this are interesting due to their truth, and also can provide a framework for solving various problems. But what should we call them? I've been considering them epistemic. This is perhaps not ideal. I don't have a better idea. Normally, I don't care about categorisations such as this, but it seems valuable to me to be able to communicate the idea that I'm referring to statements like this.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)
Suppose an approach to answering moral questions is, in the limit, convergent with the truth, but the calculations involved are more complex -- require more computing resources. This would be, in the limit, a *wrong* approach. At the least, because wasting all these resources (as opposed to using the right approach) means less resources to avoid mistakes, create value, etc...

Well before the limit, this allows us to say the non-utopian versions of consequentialism and deontology may well be convergent with true morality, but are still wrong to hold or use.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
People who think that all government documents are bad and evil, and attack laws on principle, and who also go to Bill of Rights rallies, are silly.

Anyone who reads too much into this, and tells me not all libertarians are like this, will be beaten severely.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
I was asked what 'in the limit' means, so probably others wonder as well. 'In the relevant extreme case' is pretty close.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
FYI, internet access has been and will continue to be, kinda flakey. This means less reading other websites, articles and blogs, thus less links and less ideas. And no mail program, means writing way less emails, and reading less, so less ideas. You get the idea. bleh.

Anyway, now that I'm done making excuses explaining my situation, here are some common examples of moral inversion:

Upon messing up, declare that you didn't.

Upon failing at something, blame someone else.

Upon having trouble, blame something else like a headache, lack of sleep, anger, passion, PMS, hunger, etc (Sometimes these are true, but often it's just denial).

Why is this so bad? Because good people welcome criticism, and want to improve, not pretend they are already good at things they are not.

more examples:

i'm bad at this --> it was too hard

these criticisms of me are interesting and useful --> this guy is out to get me

wow, TCS is so cool, I'm gonna try to internalise it --> wow, this is good....as I am good, I must have been it all along...I *am and was* TCS (and any differences btwn current behavior and TCS, rather than getting fixed, must now be denied)

I broke it --> they made it too flimsy

I dropped my drink --> stop making noise, it's so distracting, *you made me* drop my drink

i failed my quiz --> the quiz was biased

i'm no good at saying what i mean --> saying what one means is only for the simple-minded

i'd make a terrible soldier. i'm too wimpy --> being a solider is only for the uncouth and the inferior masses of brainwashed, stupid people

spiders scare me --> God shouldn't have made spiders

war scares me --> the reason i don't like war, is that it's wrong

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
TCS

My AIM screen name is curi42. Yesterday I spoke with sylvry79 and fr0ggetoad about TCS, and this chat contains useful explanations on myriad topics. Enjoy. (All smileys that iChat turned into graphical pictures have been lost.)

fr0ggetoad: sylvyr79: whatcha disagree with? [Talking about this article]
sylvyr79: ok, well first of all, there's something he said that i do agree with
sylvyr79: the fact that humans are complex, and one simple influence does not dictate how we behave
sylvyr79: u with me so far?
curi42: yeah
fr0ggetoad: sylvyr79: yes
sylvyr79: ok, but then he goes on to say that it's good to do what you want, including video games if that happens to be what you want
fr0ggetoad: indeed
sylvyr79: what you want is a simple influence, but it is by no means the only one acting on a person
curi42: haven't read the article recently. that's not quite true though.
curi42: you can do what you want............as long as you want the right things. morality first.
sylvyr79: well, he says it's right for a kid to do what they want, not for them to decide what they want first
sylvyr79: kids want to play video games regardless of whether it's a good idea, but he's saying it's good in any case
fr0ggetoad: why would it be bad to play video games?
curi42: well, it's pretty much always right
sylvyr79: there is a value to doing things you don't want to do
curi42: you mean to being coerced?
fr0ggetoad: if there is something that you want to do which has good value, and something you don't want to do
fr0ggetoad: which do you think you should choose?
sylvyr79: you can't generalize that question
curi42: you can ask the general question "Is it *ever* a good idea to coerce children for the sake of learning?"
sylvyr79: i'd say yes, sometimes
curi42: why/when?
sylvyr79: there are skills that people will not learn if they are left to their own devices
curi42: if the skill is important, why will the person not want to learn it?
fr0ggetoad: if something is valuable and has merit, then its likely a person will become more interested in it on their own terms than on someone else's
sylvyr79: what's important to one person is not the same as what's important in their environment
curi42: so we should do things we don't want to "for the sake of the environment" ?
sylvyr79: no, it's for the sake of being happier with yourself overall
sylvyr79: let me explain
curi42: if it will make ya happier, won't you want to do it? ...... ok
sylvyr79: in your immediate situation, you may not realize how your choices could affect your life in the future
sylvyr79: you can miss out on opportunities, and then have much less ability to be happy later on
curi42: yes, sometimes people are wrong.
curi42: but if someone does not know better, how can they take the theoretically better path? they cannot.
fr0ggetoad: your parents could also be mistaken in how they think doing or not doing something will effect your future life
sylvyr79: if a parent has experience and the child doesn't, the parent can help direct them on a good path
sylvyr79: there is no absolute right way to be a parent, so the sensible thing is just to do what you think is best
curi42: well, in general children listen to their parent's advice.
curi42: but when there is a disagreement, what right does the parent have to claim some sort of authority and make the child live out the parent's theories?
sylvyr79: the child is not necessarily acting on theories
curi42: on the stars then? ;-p
fr0ggetoad: lol
fr0ggetoad: people don't do things for no reason
sylvyr79: that's not entirely true
sylvyr79: what i mean to say is, not every action is the result of a reasoning thought process
fr0ggetoad: sure
fr0ggetoad: but we're talking about decisions here right?
curi42: heart beats aren't. and many are not explicit (in a language with symbols and grammar). but inexplicit theories do have a rhyme and reason to them.*
sylvyr79: i think an inexplicit theory is a case where someone doesn't finish the reasoning process, and just goes with what they have so far
curi42: "the reasoning process" ?
sylvyr79: of making a decision
curi42: no, i mean please tell me what this process entails
sylvyr79: considering the costs and benefits of your actions
curi42: that's how we make all decisions?
sylvyr79: yes
curi42: I propose that this theory is not a coherent explanation of all human behavior.
curi42: For example, it is lacking in explaining how we decide what is good and bad (a cost or a benefit).
fr0ggetoad: oh, good point curi
sylvyr79: sure, nothing is definite
sylvyr79: but if we have strong ideas of what's good and bad, we can use them for making decisions
fr0ggetoad: where do we *get* those ideas though?
fr0ggetoad: under your model of how we reason
sylvyr79: some of it is genetic, some is from learning from your surroundings
curi42: learning from surroundings how?
sylvyr79: what values your parents teach you, for instance
fr0ggetoad: how do they get them?
curi42: teach how?
sylvyr79: there are infinite ways to teach values
fr0ggetoad: sylvyr79, what is a mechanism for genes teaching you values?
sylvyr79: in primitive organisms, it's very simple
curi42: genes are expressed in body structure including brain structure
sylvyr79: basically, they give you tendencies to survive and reproduce
curi42: however, human brains are universal computers -- capable of doing any calculation that can be done (with enough time and memory storage)
sylvyr79: ok...
curi42: all running Intelligence software
sylvyr79: yes
curi42: structural differences may effect the speed, but not the function of our brains
curi42: and may effect the initial version of the intelligence software, but not it's subsequent form
sylvyr79: ok, there's a problem with that point
sylvyr79: true, with infinite time, brains could do any calculation
sylvyr79: but there is not infinite time, and different brains function differently in the time provided
fr0ggetoad: we're not saying anyone *will* complete a certain really long computation
fr0ggetoad: merely that if there was infinite time, it could
curi42: I hold brain speed is not a major factor in our lives. we know the speed is very fast, and it seems reasonable that our software is the bottleneck.
sylvyr79: are you saying all our software is essentially the same?
curi42: Here is a theory of human theories: The short of it is that we evolve our theories. By creating vast numbers of theories, most very similar with just slight differences, and then criticising them to eliminate the unreasonable ones, we are able to learn about any sphere. The survivors of criticism are held tentatively true, but may be criticised again in light of a new idea. It is notable that we need not start from any sort of true foundations, or good theories, but rather can start from any crap at all, hold it tentatively true, then criticise it and improve. One reason this is notable, is it means that it doesn't matter very much what initial state our brain software comes in, as long as it allows conjecture and criticism -- evolution -- because the initial state will be improved drastically and be unrecognisable in a short amount of time.
curi42: so, yes, our brain software has the same basic effect for everyone. that's what intelligence *is* -- the ability to learn, ala evolution.
sylvyr79: that makes sense
sylvyr79: but what is at the base of it?
sylvyr79: there has to be something to tell you which theories are good or bad
sylvyr79: whatever that is, it's different in different people
fr0ggetoad: criticism
curi42: well, you will have some sort of initial criticism.
curi42: theory of what it is
sylvyr79: ?
fr0ggetoad: curi, under your model do babies have theories when they are born?
curi42: and you can improve it. and either it will work, or it will not.
curi42: fr0ggetoad ..... probably, dunno. question for science.
sylvyr79: i think they have the tools to construct theories
fr0ggetoad: for sure ya
sylvyr79: and they have some basis for judging them
fr0ggetoad: well, babies left to themselves like won't get very far in that right
curi42: i think babies start with only very simple theories
sylvyr79: theories like "satisfying cravings is good"
curi42: and these are easy to criticise. like a baby might see something, and theorise that it will feel some way, and then touch it
curi42: and in touching, criticise (or not, if the theory was right) the sight-theory.
sylvyr79: that's all you need
curi42: yep
curi42: so, given all this, we can say that "children act on theories"
sylvyr79: ok
curi42: (note that we are not paying any attention that whether the theories are in English now. some will be, some won't. the distinction is useful for some conversations, but misleading in others)
sylvyr79: point taken
curi42: if a child has a theory that he should do X, and an adult has a theory that the child would be better off doing Y, what should happen?
curi42: well, first the adult will offer criticism of X, and the child will criticise the criticism and also perhaps criticise Y. suppose they can't figure out how to agree. then what?
curi42: well, i hold, it's the child's life, and it should be his own choice. the parent has no right to declare himself correct.
sylvyr79: the parent made an investment in this child....they have some right to protect it
curi42: how is trying to rule someone else's life, against his will, protection?
sylvyr79: the parent can consider more things, and has a better understanding of the way things work
fr0ggetoad: ok, so give the extra knowledge to the child
curi42: in general, yes. and thus we except children to usually agree with their parent's advice.
fr0ggetoad: by discussing it
curi42: but in this case, the parent has used all that extra experience to criticise the child's theory, and has been unpersuasive.
curi42: William Godwin: If a thing be really good, it can be shown to be such. If you cannot demonstrate its excellence, it may well be suspected that you are no proper judge of it. Why should not I be admitted to decide, upon that which is to be acquired by my labour?? ? The Enquirer (1797)
sylvyr79: you may not be able to explain it to the child if he doesn't have the background to grasp it
curi42: if it's a major choice, as you seem to be mostly concerned with, explain the background
sylvyr79: whatever experiences the child would need to see that what the parent is saying is actually true
curi42: experience just helps us form theories. communications can do the same thing.
curi42: the problem with this view, that the child does not understand the background, is that it is simply another way to say parent considers child wrong.
curi42: the child could try the same approach. he could say:
curi42: "mommy, i know you know a lot about most things, but about this particular thing, you don't know a lot.
sylvyr79: this is like the idea that you can't learn to ride a bicycle without actually getting on
curi42: in fact, you don't have the background required to understand why i am right about this"
curi42: you could, but that is infeasible
sylvyr79: you need to actually have the experience to be able to understand it
curi42: b/c physical theories about moving muscles are hard to talk about. you'd need some special machine.

[At this point, the chatroom died.]

sylvyr79: where were we?
curi42: i was saying that, the parent thinking child to "lack the right background to understand" is just another way to say the parent thinks he is right.
curi42: and the child could say the same thing. after all, if the decision is about the child's life.....
curi42: well, child has been living it for years, and knows details of own personality parent does not. details of what will work for him and make him happy.
sylvyr79: wait, i'm not sure about that first point
sylvyr79: the parent is not just saying "i think i'm right"
curi42: "you don't understand" == "you are wrong" as far as arguments go
sylvyr79: but the parent does have justification for what they're saying
curi42: your opponent will just say the same of you
curi42: the parent considers himself justified. the child considers parent wrong about that.
curi42: note: that the child also thinks he has justification, and the parent disagrees with that.
curi42: parent's aren't epistemically privileged
sylvyr79: there is a difference between a parent and a child
fr0ggetoad: yes there is
curi42: fr0ggetoad: he means a relevant one
curi42: so let's let him explain
sylvyr79: the parent has experience that he may be able to impart to the child only through coercion
sylvyr79: it's a substitute for actually giving the child that experience
curi42: well, the parent might be wrong. and then he will have wrongly hurt child, won't he?
sylvyr79: yes, but you don't avoid making decisions for fear that you might be wrong
sylvyr79: you act on your best theories
curi42: we generally do avoid making decisions *for other people when they disagree and want to live their own life*
curi42: you certainly wouldn't, say, prevent me from [censored for privacy].
sylvyr79: that's not in my power....
curi42: and if it was?
sylvyr79: it can't be...you're the only one who can make that decision
fr0ggetoad: but but
fr0ggetoad: um
fr0ggetoad: sylvyr79
sylvyr79: yes
curi42: but i have parents, sylvyr79
fr0ggetoad: like you're contradicting yourself
sylvyr79: no i'm not
fr0ggetoad: Elliot's parents have more life experience than he does, right?
sylvyr79: yes
fr0ggetoad: should they be able to make him [censored for privacy]?
fr0ggetoad: if they think that's best?
curi42: [question censored, I said ?nevermind? two seconds later anyway]
sylvyr79: there's too many unknowns, it's impossible to answer that question
fr0ggetoad: replace elliot with child
fr0ggetoad: and elliot's parents with the child's parents
curi42: yeah nevermind
curi42: when a parent thinks his child is making a mistake, he doesn't intervene *every single time* right?
sylvyr79: right
curi42: so, how does parent decide in which cases he should intervene?
sylvyr79: they decide with whatever tools they have to decide
curi42: well, surely it's not about how sure parent feels
curi42: what i mean is what parents *should* do, not what they really do.
sylvyr79: well, parents should use whatever theories they have come up with in their lifetime to try to shape things in such a way that a good result is likely to occur
curi42: good by child's standards, right?
sylvyr79: if we're talking about what the adult should do, then good by the adult's standards
curi42: "a good result is likely to occur"
curi42: parent should aim for child to grow up to be happy and successful *by own lights*, not by parent's. right?
curi42: no matter how much daddy values being a lawyer, if child is all into art instead, child should become an artist.
sylvyr79: yeah....
curi42: we can apply this to various other things
sylvyr79: this is assuming that the parent has declared happiness and success as ultimate values
curi42: when parent and child disagree about whether child should do A or B next, no matter how much parent values A, if child is into B instead, etc
curi42: oh, i didn't mean to say they were. you can fill in something else there. it's not important to the logic of the argument.
sylvyr79: a parent can recognize that other things are important to a child, and guide them to achieve what is important to the child
curi42: it's not clear if this "guiding" includes forcing or not.
sylvyr79: it does include forcing if the parent decides it's useful
curi42: and what criterion should parent use for when he should force?
sylvyr79: if they think there is something the child must do, that he will not do on his own
curi42: why must he?
sylvyr79: in order to keep opportunities open, perhaps
curi42: are these opportunities important to child?
curi42: (yes) then why doesn't he want to keep them open himself?
sylvyr79: he may not have the discipline to do it himself
curi42: "discipline" consists of?
sylvyr79: pushing yourself
curi42: so imagine a child who wants something, but is unable to push himself enough. how is parent going to use force to help matters?
sylvyr79: i'll give you an example
sylvyr79: i want to be a good runner, but i don't have the discipline to do it myself. Someone else pushes me to do it, and that gives me enough incentive to push myself harder
curi42: ok, but this "pushing you" won't involve force.
curi42: (consensual "force" does not count)
sylvyr79: it involves force in a sense
fr0ggetoad: i think what would actually be happening in that situation is that the person gets convinced that its worth it
sylvyr79: parts of my mind do rebel, it's not unanimous consent
curi42: that's bad
sylvyr79: how so?
curi42: because you are torn, and part of you is hurt.
fr0ggetoad: being in conflict with yourself
fr0ggetoad: is not a good thing
fr0ggetoad: right curi
sylvyr79: that's not a bad thing, that's how it always is
curi42: wouldn't it be better to act with the unanimous consent of your own personality?
fr0ggetoad: if you have the option of stopping when you want
fr0ggetoad: then its possible to run with unanimous consent within yourself
sylvyr79: it's never unanimous
fr0ggetoad: well if you have a theory that you should stop when you feel physical pain
sylvyr79: then you don't improve
fr0ggetoad: then you will become torn
fr0ggetoad: when you start to feel pain
fr0ggetoad: but pain is just a state of mind
fr0ggetoad: its input
sylvyr79: yes...
fr0ggetoad: do you agree that its possible to ignore pain then?
fr0ggetoad: by changing your state of mind?
sylvyr79: yes
fr0ggetoad: ok
fr0ggetoad: so then the conflict is being caused
fr0ggetoad: by the theory that pain is bad
fr0ggetoad: if you had a better theory that conflict wouldn't happen
fr0ggetoad: if someone could totally convince themselves of this then they wouldn't be coercing themselves (in respect to pain) when running
sylvyr79: if you could totally convince yourself, you would not be open to new ideas
curi42: no!
curi42: "true and mutable" -- our best ideas should be held true, and also open to criticism and thus change.
curi42: it's not a contradiction to, say, "be totally committed to being open to changing one's ideas"
curi42: even though being open may cause one to change this idea that one was (formerly) totally committed to
sylvyr79: you're saying "being totally committed" is a temporary state of mind
curi42: all theories are at a point in time.
curi42: at some other point in time, you will have different ones.
sylvyr79: yes, so you're never totally committed
curi42: sure you are
fr0ggetoad: sure you are
curi42: there is not a part of me (in this time) that is not committed to living morally, say
fr0ggetoad: you can be completely convinced of something
fr0ggetoad: and then see evidence to the contrary
fr0ggetoad: and get a better explanation
fr0ggetoad: and be totally convinced of that
sylvyr79: why call it completely convinced, if you can change it?
fr0ggetoad: because we know that we are fallible
curi42: because fallibility is not an obstacle to holding up things as true.
fr0ggetoad: knowing that people are fallible does not imply not trying to understand things
sylvyr79: i'm saying that your "completely convinced" is no different from any other idea you might have
curi42: not different from "tentatively held true" in any fundamental way
curi42: it is different from some i claim not to be very sure about.
sylvyr79: ok
curi42: the point is
curi42: fallibility says that we cannot know anything with certainty -- we can be wrong about anything
sylvyr79: yes
curi42: but it does not imply that we should be wrong about any particular proposition.
curi42: if i say some particular proposition is true, fallibility doesn't argue otherwise.
sylvyr79: granted
curi42: therefore, there is no contradiction between the possibility of being wrong (and thus having to change one's view) and saying that one is right (ie that one's view is true)
sylvyr79: this is not a contradiction...it's just, you act on your best theories until you have better ones
curi42: k

Kinda abrupt end, hope ya learned something, *waves*

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
Here's an idea: Our most basic/fundamental theories are the ones that, if changed, would create the most inconsistencies in our worldview.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)
I realised that the "What exists, and in what ways do these things exist?" question is a bad one. We have the word "exists", we don't really know what it means, we want to. I was just writing to an email list about how doing the same thing with "love" is a terrible idea. So here's a solution to the question of existance: regard things to exist, when it is epistemically necessary to explaining reality.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)
Google "rational chic" and you won't find anything. "Rational chick" has 4 junk hits. How dprzzing is that?

"Rational girls" comes up with 8. Here's one.

It begins: My mother used to tell me that if you sleep with covers on you'd have wild and vivid dreams. So every night I go sleep, I'm covered to my chin with bed sheets and covers, no matter the temperature, no matter the season, hoping the linens will surround my surreal self and keep those wonderful tales in my head. I sleep naked. Started doing it as a teenager, so beneath those warm and heavy sheets is my naked and sweating body. It's not like anyone will ever see my naked body. I sleep with the window open too. As if to tempt fate, hoping some young burglar will come in some night and have his way with me.

Damn lying mother. But anyway, what's up with this hope of a burglar in the night? Why would someone want to be abused? There are some really fucked up memes about sex in our culture.

Googling "rational girl" gets 88 hits. Lots seem to be books/fantasy or lesbians. *sigh*

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
Things that are "necessary to explaining reality" exist. To explain reality, we don't need to know if we like people. It's simply not necessary. We can do just fine answering questions like "Do I want to talk to her right now?" and "Do I want to learn more about her?" and "Do I want to spend time doing X with her?". So, liking *does not exist*.

However, there is something the notion does come in handy for. What if, instead of trying to explain the world, we want to *predict*. Then, it is useful. That's what "liking" really is -- an expectation to continue wanting [various things]. The various things including wanting to spend time together, wanting to fuck, etc

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
The war has started!

(If you don't know where to look for links/news, USS Clueless gives some ideas here.)
Another Problem with the NAP

Deterrence policies tell some person/group that actions in a certain category will be met with a certain response. The point is to prevent the deterred party from performing some evil action that would otherwise be performed, without the consequences. The consequences chosen will specifically be things that would be of questionable morality without the announced declaration, because otherwise they'd just be expected. (No need to tell thieves that if we catch them in the act, we won't allow them to continue.)

Two examples would be to tell Saddam that if he nukes Israel, we will kill every last member of his extended family, and a policy of sending every nuke we have at the USSR should it send a single nuke at the USA.

Are these specific policies justified? That's debatable. They have to be evaluated by how effective they will be, what they will prevent, and what we will have to do should they fail (to not follow up would make all future deterrence policies ineffective and is generally not an option).

But by the NAP, they involve initiating force against people who did not initiate force against us. Killing Saddam's family if Saddam attacks us, or blowing up Russian cities should the Russian military fire a nuke, respectively. The NAP cannot accommodate deterrence policies. Whether these specific ones are right or not, the NAP fails to include a general case argument why all deterrence policies that initiate force must be wrong, and is thus an unreasonable way to approach the issue.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)
Suppose you are a bad person. You get angry a lot, have trouble valuing much, aren’t very successful, blame others for your troubles, and hurt your children often. But, whatever, you’re life isn’t so bad. You get through it, enjoy a fair amount of it.

Now, suppose someone claims to be moral, and you notice the implication that you are not. And suppose this person lacks all your bad traits. This might well make you feel bad.

And then you might write a letter to the so-called moral person, attacking him. The content might be along the lines of (if you were exceptionally intelligent and clear, for a bad person): You bastard, fuck you. You’re totally wrong. Oh, and if you reply in kind you’re just like me, except also a liar. Nope, just sit there and take it, Mr. High and Mighty. Oh, and you can’t get resentful because that would violate your moral code, huh? But you are mad at me, aren’t you? Yep, you’re a hypocrite. Now stop implying I’m bad, and get back to your stupid, lucky life.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
The more money you have, the more diminishing returns on getting value out of it. Hence, charities, which offer to do Great Things with your money. Most don't. But anyway, what is one to do to get high yield out of lozza money? One thing to do is give lots to one's kids. Friends are also a good target, if they are short on money -- you know your friends and can see if you give them money for a specific thing it really will be a worthy purchase. There's surely other good ideas, low excess creativity now though.

If you're rich and short on solutions, I can help *grin*, you know my email....... *waves*

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
I Am A Capitalist

(It's a joke, get it?)

[Credit to David SJ]

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
David Deutsch in a rare attempt at satire (the rest of this post is written by Deutsch):

Rondo a la Turque

Turkish troops have reportedly entered northern Iraq
despite opposition from the US. Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said Turkish forces had moved across the border to prevent a flood of refugees.

According to Turkish military sources, more than 1,000 commandos crossed the border.

The Turkish military Saturday denied reports
that some 1,000 Turkish commandos crossed into northern Iraq, a military move that would likely increase tensions with Iraqi Kurds and Washington.

And
A military official said Friday that soldiers, in M-113 armored personnel carriers, rolled into northeastern Iraq from near the town of Cukurca, where the borders of Turkey, Iraq and Iran converge. He said the soldiers were reinforcing several thousand Turkish troops already on the Iraqi side of the border and were not ordered to go deeper into Iraq.

Similar reports were front-page news in Turkish newspapers Saturday and were carried on Turkish television stations throughout the night.

And
A spokesman for the Turkish General Staff denied the reports.

?Turkey has not entered northern Iraq,? the spokesman said, speaking on customary condition of anonymity. ?Such news is a lie.?

A dastardly lie! Turkey would never do a thing like that. They?re shocked. Shocked, do you hear?

With me so far? OK, next:
Germany said Saturday it would withdraw its crew members from NATO surveillance planes that are patrolling Turkish airspace if Turkey moves its troops into Iraq. The threat was announced by Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer and Defense Minister Peter Struck following a meeting of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Security Cabinet.

They threatened to withdraw if Turkey moves troops into Iraq? Do they mean if Turkey moves more troops? BTW Turkish troops already were in Iraq -- they have been for years. Perhaps the Germans are confused, and think that incursions of up to 150 km are OK, but now they've moved to 180km. Or something.

Anyway -- good news everyone:
UN weapons inspector Hans Blix announced today from Ankara that a preliminary inspection of the city ?has revealed no evidence that Turkey has moved any troops into Iraq?. He said there is evidence of previous incursions, and the inspectors are ?vigorously pursuing the issue?, demanding that the Turkish government deliver ?credible evidence? that all the troops had been withdrawn in the mid-1990s. He praised the Turkish government's cooperation ?on process? and said he was confident that cooperation on substance would be forthcoming during the coming months. Meanwhile, inspections would continue. ?There are a lot of interesting restaurants in downtown Istanbul?, Mr. Blix remarked.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry at first issued the following statement:
Who is this idiot?

But later amended this to:
We reiterate that there are no, absolutely no, Turkish troops in Iraq. They are there for humanitarian reasons only, and the land they are seizing is not for territorial purposes. UN inspectors are welcome to search for them anywhere in Turkey.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
Idiotiarian Roses are Red poem:

Roses are red,
violets are blue,
when my theories get disproven,
blame a cabal of Jews!

-- Justin, of Tentativity

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
Frank J, of IMAO, made a list of countries we shouldn't bomb: UK, Australia, and Israel. He says Israel never hurt anyone....that he cares about. Which, is just the point. Yes, Israel has killed people. But that's not actually an argument against Israel. What matters, is who Israel (or anyone) kills and why. Frank J, does not care about terrorists and other murderous types. He, unlike most, knows that such people are the only ones Israel targets.

You might think Frank just likes seeing civillians die. But if that's true, there are a number of other countries he ought to love[!]....

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
Such inane arguments as "well if we attack people preemptively, what if other people start attacking us preemptively" are so intellectually bankrupt I find it striking, and thus consider it to call out for explanation. How about this one: the people saying it, deny morality, and hold mechanical pseudo-values. Because the explanation of which preemptions are kosher does not follow a mechanical rule, they find it incomprehensible and so make up a mechanical rule and claim we are using it. Example mechanical rules include: all preemption is cool; no preemption is cool; all preemption that Noam Chomsky says is cool, is cool, and the rest is not; or somesuch.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
Bad Joke

It's clear that people on blogs should swear more. How can someone let a whole entry go by and not use any "naughty" words? A blog entry is a great chance to break a taboo. And they aren't censored at all. And some people will probably get a guilty thrill from reading a curse word, so maybe you'll get more hits. So, in conclusion, I want to reiterate that you'd have to be really stupid to write a whole entry without swearing.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
Ugh, just saw ad for center that's supposed to make kids like reading. It begins with parents hearing noises from kids, and mother says "I'll go" like neither wants to, but she has the energy atm (at the moment) to manage so father does not have to. Mother then tells kids to "stop goofing around" before seeing what they are doing, and only fails to make them go to sleep because they are reading. -sigh-

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
"I think you should drop out of school too, I've got enough money to support both of us, and desipte your intelligence, I think you'd make a great trophy wife." -- TV is funny

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
Update (dec 15, 2003): My blog has moved. It is now found here.

Okie, so I managed to write and then erase comments on McCarthy speech. So, take 2.... v_v At least it’ll be better this time.

Speech of Joseph McCarthy, Wheeling, West Virginia, February 9, 1950

This speech seems to be McCarthy’s most famous, but not positive. All the bold spots are my emphasis.

Ladies and gentlemen, tonight as we celebrate the one hundred forty-first birthday of one of the greatest men in American history, I would like to be able to talk about what a glorious day today is in the history of the world. As we celebrate the birth of this man who with his whole heart and soul hated war, I would like to be able to speak of peace in our time—of war being outlawed—and of world-wide disarmament. These would be truly appropriate things to be able to mention as we celebrate the birthday of Abraham Lincoln.

McCarthy’s reputation is, in short, horribly evil. I’ve heard he was quite bad with specific factual claims, but that some of his general points were mostly true. And I’ve heard that his recklessness was more harmful than helpful to the anti-commie movement. Like people could just brush off true accusations as McCarthyism. Anyway, his speech doesn’t start like a raving loon. Onward!

Five years after a world war has been won, men’s hearts should anticipate a long peace—and men’s minds should be free from the heavy weight that comes with war. But this is not such a period—for this is not a period of peace. This is a time of “the cold war.” This is a time when all the world is split into two vast, increasingly hostile armed camps—a time of a great armament race.

Perfectly reasonable.

Today we can almost physically hear the mutterings and rumblings of an invigorated god of war. You can see it, feel it, and hear it all the way from the Indochina hills, from the shores of Formosa, right over into the very heart of Europe itself.

McCarthy does not like complacency.

The one encouraging thing is that the “mad moment” has not yet arrived for the firing of the gun or the exploding of the bomb which will set civilization about the final task of destroying itself. There is still a hope for peace if we finally decide that no longer can we safely blind our eyes and close our ears to those facts which are shaping up more and more clearly . . . and that is that we are now engaged in a show-down fight . . . not the usual war between nations for land areas or other material gains, but a war between two diametrically opposed ideologies.

This part starts a little apocalyptic, but that does not recur, and is in fact immediately contradicted. McCarthy is still against complacency, and is now bringing up his next point.

The great difference between our western Christian world and the atheistic Communist world is not political, gentlemen, it is moral. For instance, the Marxian idea of confiscating the land and factories and running the entire economy as a single enterprise is momentous. Likewise, Lenin’s invention of the one-party police state as a way to make Marx’s idea work is hardly less momentous.

Absolutely superb! When reading the speech, be sure to swap the words ‘God’ and “Christian’ with ‘morality’ and ‘atheism’ with ‘immoral’. That’s what he really means. If you disagree, three points

- If you don’t swap, my comments will make no sense.
- I’ll write on the subject later.
- If you do swap, and you find that with the swap, the speech makes more sense than otherwise -- if you find the swap has a lot of explanatory power -- then you will have good reason to think it true.

By the way, I’m most definitely an atheist.

Stalin’s resolute putting across of these two ideas, of course, did much to divide the world. With only these differences, however, the east and the west could most certainly still live in peace.

This bit is rather moderate. Onward!

The real, basic difference, however, lies in the religion of immoralism . . . invented by Marx, preached feverishly by Lenin, and carried to unimaginable extremes by Stalin. This religion of immoralism, if the Red half of the world triumphs—and well it may, gentlemen—this religion of immoralism will more deeply wound and damage mankind than any conceivable economic or political system.

Well, we can see why a lot of people would hate McCarthy. But I rather like this part.

Karl Marx dismissed God as a hoax, and Lenin and Stalin have added in clear-cut, unmistakable language their resolve that no nation, no people who believe in a god, can exist side by side with their communistic state.

Swap ‘God’ with ‘morality’ and reread the paragraph.

Karl Marx, for example, expelled people from his Communist Party for mentioning such things as love, justice, humanity or morality. He called this “soulful ravings” and “sloppy sentimentality.” . . .

Wow! Fuck Marx.

Today we are engaged in a final, all-out battle between communistic atheism and Christianity. The modern champions of communism have selected this as the time, and ladies and gentlemen, the chips are down—they are truly down.

What comes to mind, is that in the present, a lot of people want to kill us. They say so. Saddam is not shy about it -- America is his enemy. Every friday, all over the Islamic world, Muslim holy men preach death to the Jews and Christians. Every day, are numerous attempted terror attacks in Israel. Iraqis even shoot at US citizens. They shoot guns at us. (No disrespect to Israel, which has put up with this for its entire history, intended. They shoot at you too, I know.)

And yet, people put their hand in the sand, and say that three months ago we lived in peace, and if only the US would stop playing the aggressor, and if only the damn Jews would stop whining and die, then everything would be fine and dandy. Some people think the chips are not down, there is no battle, nothing at all to worry about.

And today, these people are dead wrong. Thus far, I’ve every reason to think that they were dead wrong in McCarthy’s time too.

Lest there be any doubt that the time has been chosen, let us go directly to the leader of communism today—Joseph Stalin. Here is what he said—not back in 1928, not before the war, not during the war—but 2 years after the last war was ended: “To think that the Communist revolution can be carried out peacefully, within the framework of a Christian democracy, means one has either gone out of one’s mind and lost all normal understanding, or has grossly and openly repudiated the Communist revolution.” . . .

That’s pretty convincing, isn’t it? Stalin wanted us dead. McCarthy wanted to listen to him -- to take him at face value.

Ladies and gentlemen, can there be anyone tonight who is so blind as to say that the war is not on? Can there by anyone who fails to realize that the Communist world has said the time is now? . . . that this is the time for the show-down between the democratic Christian world and the communistic atheistic world?

*smile*

Unless we face this fact, we shall pay the price that must be paid by those who wait too long.

I want to point out that, thus far, McCarthy seems to be a good speaker with good points, not a man deserving hatred.

Six years ago, . . . there was within the Soviet orbit, 180,000,000 people. Lined up on the antitotalitarian side there were in the world at that time, roughly 1,625,000,000 people. Today, only six years later, there are 80,000,000,000 people under the absolute domination of Soviet Russia—an increase of over 400 percent. On our side, the figure has shrunk to around 500,000. In other words, in less than six years, the odds have changed from 9 to 1 in our favor to 8 to 1 against us.

I don’t trust these numbers at all. The 80 billion must be a typo. But still, don’t trust the rest. I also don’t care much whether he got these numbers right. It doesn’t seem important.

This indicates the swiftness of the tempo of Communist victories and American defeats in the cold war. As one of our outstanding historical figures once said, “When a great democracy is destroyed, it will not be from enemies from without, but rather because of enemies from within.” . . .

McCarthy reveals another of his points: he is upset with anti-Americanism inside America.

The reason why we find ourselves in a position of impotency is not because our only powerful potential enemy has sent men to invade our shores . . . but rather because of the traitorous actions of those who have been treated so well by this Nation. It has not been the less fortunate, or members of minority groups who have been traitorous to this Nation, but rather those who have had all the benefits that the wealthiest Nation on earth has had to offer . . . the finest homes, the finest college education and the finest jobs in government we can give.

Today too, the colleges are full of idiotarians. The working class, far as I know, is much better grounded in reality.

This is glaringly true in the State Department. There the bright young men who are born with silver spoons in their mouths are the ones who have been most traitorous. . . .

I hear the State Department is full of idiotarians today. Seems reasonable to suppose it was in 1950, too.

I have here in my hand a list of 205 . . . a list of names that were made known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy in the State Department. . . .

I don’t trust his list one bit. Pretty sure it was never revealed. Seems like, in retrospect, a big mistake on McCarthy’s part. Must do more research.

As you know, very recently the Secretary of State proclaimed his loyalty to a man guilty of what has always been considered as the most abominable of all crimes—being a traitor to the people who gave him a position of great trust—high treason. . . .

Wow! I wonder if this is true. Must do more research.

He has lighted the spark which is resulting in a moral uprising and will end only when the whole sorry mess of twisted, warped thinkers are swept from the national scene so that we may have a new birth of honesty and decency in government.

Heroic sentiments, aren’t they? He wants to fight to get idiotarians out of government. Or so it sounds. Don’t actually know how many idiotarians there were in 1950. Have heard plenty, but must do more research.

So, to sum up, McCarthy was pro-morality (and Christianity), anti-commie, anti-complacency, didn’t like anti-Americanism at home, and had some suspect facts. And was blunt. So far...I like him.

Update (dec 15, 2003): My blog has moved. It is now found here.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
I hadn't been to The Onion for a while. My memory said it was a good site. But I just went and it was covered in idiotarian crap. Now I'm sad v_v

Look here and it's just awful. 9 things on top, all crap. (Down a little is a funny bit....the top reason to oppose war is "I Support My Activist Girlfriend.")

Anyway, the 9 things are:
- claim war being treated like video game
- claim that bombs create terrorists
- claim we are gonna install dictatorship
- claim bush is a chickenhawk
- claim war will piss off the rest of the planet
- claim the pro-war ppl have not answered any anti-war debating poitns
- claim we don't understand the seriousness of war
- claim we're causing too much collateral damage
- claim the US didn't have support any in the UN, and that UN is cool and should be listened to

Damn them. Here's a better site

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
On the [email protected] list I just noticed an email where someone had written that we should have waited until Saddam used a nuke on Israel, or even on the US (though she didnt like *that* possibility nearly as much), wherever he chose, so that we would have a stronger case for war.

And then someone wrote back to agree.

I have now unsubscribed...

It's especially telling that even these idiots realise Saddam's goal was to make nukes and kill good people.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
I tried to post this to the TCS list, but it was rejected. -sigh- Anyway, enjoy:

The better you know someone, and the better they know you, the more intimate things it is safe to tell them. Which meshes amazingly well with a gradual approach to relationships, and extremely poorly with any sort of discontinuous jump.

By the way, this is important to parents who've messed up in the past, and now have an older child but little relationship. "Come tell me all about you, so we can catch up," would be just the wrong thing to say.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (6)
On an airplane, when the flight attendants ask people to sit down, they do. And they turn off their electronic equipment. And they ring the call button to provide change for a twenty. and no one hits each other. some ppl seem to think Saddam in power is peace, and it just means whether any states are fighting other states; I'd rather apply da word to a airplane flight. or to US society.

And when the plane stops, everyone on the isle rows gets up, and gets their stuff, and then the people in the front get off, and row by row everyone gets off. This goes rather smoothly, lozza consent, even tho it means the ppl in back have to wait a while 4 everyone in front of 'em to leave.

A revolutionary might look at this and go: "Wait, wait, I have a better idea!! Everyone on the isle, get up, grab your bags, and walk out. No one cut in front of these people and stop to get a bag from overheard, just let them walk out quickly. People in back of the line can come out cause they won't be in the way. This will be more efficient." (note this means front window seats leave last, not near first)

But truth is, trying to change the order, would be more trouble than it's worth, cause lots of chaos, make a big mess, and be totally not efficient. Me no like revolutionaries. they don't understand that traditions and evolution don't like big discontinuous jumps.

from another angle, when ya wanna persuade someone, ya gotta provide both a better view and a way to get to it, not just a better view. telling an anti-semite to be moral, without tons of details on how and why and such, just won't work.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
Every time we tell someone personal details -- intimate information -- the person is in a better position to hurt us *unintentionally*. (I am not interested in intentional hurting or gossip or anyone else but the two people talking.) Imperfect people say imperfect things to each other all the time. And it is fairly common to make a joke that is taken badly; explain something person didn't want to know; criticise unhelpfully; or otherwise make some error. And, we are generally pretty good about not holding a grudge or even being coerced by the errors. If something weird is said, people often just say "nevermind" and forget it. Or change the subject. Or ignore it.

But anyway, these minor mishaps are there. And, sometimes, there are larger ones. Perhaps not as common or severe as romantic movies would have us believe, but they certainly happen and matter. Usually they get solved too, no apocalypse. Sometimes not. Whatever.

Now, what can we say about the ability of these mishaps to hurt us? Well, to be hurt, we must take them personally -- have some emotional stake. If we don't care about some domain, we won't get hurt in it. It's only when we care, that we are vulnerable.

And one thing that we are quite attached to, is our own personality. For good people, not all of it -- we may be totally open to criticism in some fields, and not at all attached -- but no one is all that near the limit in that direction. When our friends are upset with us, we care. When those we know well and like and respect, think us bad, it is not as nothing. If a troll rants and raves about how evil we are, we will not mind. The attacks will miss the mark without the most extraordinary of luck. We will be amazed at how badly he misread us. But if a close friend went for it...

So, I keep talking of friends and intimacy -- what's the defining characeristic of those? Knowing each other -- or to make alice happy -- having an understanding of each other's personalities. How does this normally come about? Hanging out, chatting, shared projects, etc

Now, as long as we are gradual in creating understanding of each other, things may go wrong, but I am not worried. There are dangers inherent in everything, no big. Our knowledge of the person, and of how not to hurt the person, will grow together. The second being pretty much totally inexplicit.

But the point is, what if we attempted to create lots of intimacy -- to share lots of personal knowledge -- discontinuously. What if we just met some random person, and started pouring our heart out, giving up all sorts of details? What will happen?

We'll end up with someone, making lots of mistakes, and not knowing what to say to us, and not really understanding us, but with access to our most sensitive spots. We'll be frustrated with criticism useless to us; and hurt by others that shouldn't have been said; and not hear useful ones because person misjudges which to say. We'll hear suggestions we've tried; suggestions that offend us; suggestions that are exactly wrong. And all sorts of things will be misunderstood. And what for? To what end? No good one.

Getting along well, must evolve.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)
On the previous entry, Pat McNerthney commented as follows:

Yes, it is true that the more of ourselves that we share, the greater we are exposed to potential harm, if even unintentional. However, we also expose ourselves to a greater potential of good, which outweighs the potential harm.

Sharing personal details is nothing more than growing knowledge. Are you really claiming that there is a "proper" growth rate to such knowledge growth?

It's not that there should be a particular rate (for any given couple in specific circumstances, there is a right rate, though). Rather, I'm against discontinuous jumps.

And so, against:
- declaring boyfriend/girlfriend status
- declaring patient/psychologist status

and any other sort of declaring a personal relationship that didn't exist the moment before the declaration. And (to a lesser degree) this applies to telling people intimate details early -- acting on a fantasty relationship. In all these cases of discotinuous jumps, the people sorta creation a relationship out of thin air, then try to act like it exists. Which is dangerous (highly conducive to making mistakes) and doesn't actually help further any real relationship.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
On the previous entry, Gil commented as follows:

It seems to me that this is all just a long way of saying that you are personally risk-averse when it comes to relationships. You seem to exaggerate risks and discount benefits.

This is just a fancy way for Gil to say he thinks I'm wrong. It's also an odd criticism, because I haven't been evaluating specific actions. In fact, I said that the right rate of growing a relationship varies drastically with people and circumstance. I did not write anything like "people should be very cautious, because the world is scary" as someone who read only Gil's comment might think.

Pat's position seems right. Sharing personal information has risks, but they should be weighed fairly against reasonable expectations of costs and benefits.

Cost/benefit is not a very good approach to relationships. We need explanations of what is the right thing to do, not measurements or numbers.

Yes, giving all your personal information to a complete stranger is unwise; but giving some to a date or psychologist who comes highly recommended from a trusted friend might very well be worthwhile.

What could be the use of such a recommendation, in this discussion? It can't be trustworthiness in having good intentions and not gossiping, because I already wrote: I am not interested in intentional hurting or gossip or anyone else but the two people talking. That leaves the notion that our friends being right, is generally a better explanation of reality than otherwise. Except....right about what? About the person being of good character? Oops, I already specified I'm not invoking that argument. About the person being generally compatible with us, then? Errr, if that's the case we will discover it as we begin to talk anyway. So, what good is the recommendation?

(Recommendations are perfectly good for picking who to try meeting, btw.)

This continuous/discontinuous distinction seems weird to me. Why not say that one should take risks when they are reasonable, and admit that broad generalizations about when this will be the case for others are likely to be false?

Would it make sense to you, to say that good relationships require knowledge, and that this cannot be created by declaration, by want, by decision, by imagination, etc?

Here are two more examples of discontinuity:
- becoming "a man" at a certain age, despite no new knowledge coming into existance
- a Catholic child going to his first confession. the knowledge of how the priest can help the specific child, simply doesn't exist.

More on throwing privacy to the winds in particular tomorrow.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)
I read this USS Clueless entry. Den Beste writes:

Skokie is a suburb of Chicago, and in the 1970's it happens to have had a fairly large number of Jews living there, many of whom were either direct survivors of the Holocaust or had lost relatives in the Holocaust. A neo-Nazi group wanted to hold a parade there. They deliberately chose it because of its Jewish population, and the town refused to let them.

The American Civil Liberties Union is particularly interested in First Amendment cases, and faced a difficult choice. Most of its membership was liberal and leftist. However, this seemed to the ACLU to be a classic attempt to censor public speech based on the fact that it represented unpopular opinions (to say the least).

He goes on to tell us that the ACLU did take the case and won it, at the cost of some membership and donations. He considers this the right thing, because ACLU took a principled stand: to defend the right to free speech, as the organisation was intended.

However, the problem with this view, is that it ignores the morality of the situation. We have nazis... fucking NAZIS, who want to HARASS JEWS. That is morally wrong. It's totally reprehensible, and should be criminal. Den Beste's analysis, is that everyone has the right to unpopular speech, and this is important. But why should that be true? Rights are not self-evident or manifest or anything like that. They are approximations of morality. And we must keep our head on our shoulders when applying them. (Especially the libertarians.)

---------

I would say the above is an example of someone taking a rights prior to morality view. A friend of mine recently criticised this, saying that people do not have two distinct structures in their brains/theories that we could call "morality" and "rights" and do not put one before the other. Of course, in what he says, he is right (there are not such structures), but he's missed the point of the rights before morality criticism. It's a high-level explanation of how people evaluate moral questions. Den Beste started his analysis with the well-known right to free speech. And considers this dominant, and that was the end of the story. I begin by asking about the morality of the situation: should Nazis be allowed to parade their hate speech in front of a bunch of Jews? My answer was no. And Den Beste knows this perfectly well -- he knows it's not a very nice thing for the Nazis to do, and in many ways objectionable. He knows the morality of being a Nazi. He must know, too, the morality of intentionally choosing a place with lots of Jews to hold a Nazi rally. But, despite this, he put the right to free speech ahead of morality in his conclusions.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
If we accept that discontinuities in relationships are bad, because the knowledge to handle them does not exist, then what should we say about telling very intimate details to someone we've just met?

Premise: For two people, have some relationship, there is some order of what things are more or less private to tell each other.

Premise: The more private things are the most dangerous to tell.

OK, so how do we get the knowledge to make telling very private things safe? Intimacy (getting to know each other well -- creating knowledge of each other). The more intimacy, the more we can-safely/should tell.

So, what if people tell more than appropriate, and think they haven't messed up? It means, they think various knowledge exists that does not -- they have a fantasy relationship. By the fiat of their imagination, they've decided their partner has qualities partner doesn't. This bad.

What this got to do with discontinuity? Well, if there is an order of things to tell, and we need to create knowledge to tell later ones, then it makes sense to generally go in order (backtracking fine). A discontinuous jump from people talking about rather public things, straight to very private ones, rather than a gradual increase, indicates that a fantasy relationship has been created, or the people wouldn't think this safe.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
What the fuck is with the term "non-conventional" weapons? They are not "in different taste" (in fact, as weapons to kill people, they make perfect sense). The difference, is they are generally *immoral* to use.

I guess it does say something nice that acting rightly is so conventional here that we built it into our language. But for some groups, using gas and bio and terror and suicide bombings and anything else to kill civillians and/or troops *is* the convention. And we shouldn't let them off the hook by calling them anything but evil murdering fucks.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
On an email list, I was asked why effective communication is morally imperative (in the context of posting).

To see why, we must consider what posters are hoping to accomplish. If they want to communiate, discuss, argue, criticise, make sense, provide food for thought, ask questions, get help, make friends, have a nice time talking, or anything remotely normal like that, then they will need to communicate to accomplish their ends. In other words, failing to communicate effectively is inimical to their own intentions. And, as I've said before, life strategies that fail *by their own standards* are morally wrong.

Note especially that people don't do things for no reason, so saying posters haven't any goal won't suffice. And writing gibberish to annoy people, obviously won't do to defend the morality of ineffective communication.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
Stephen Den Beste replied to my previous blog about the ACLU (quoted with permission):

I'm afraid I must deeply disagree with you. Our dedication to freedom absolutely must include defending the speech of those we hate. The entire point is that the protection of speech must indeed be moral neutral. If protection of speech becomes broadly related to the content of the speech and the extent to which it is approved by the general populace, then it ceases to be protected.

While it's true that we should not censor speech because it has content we do not like, there are certain types of speech that are unacceptable, such as yelling "Fire!!" in a movie theatre. Speech intended to intimidate or harass or frighten people, is also objectionable. I would say it is immoral. Someone more into rights, could simply say I don't agree with a right to intimidating speech.

You cannot come up to me and tell me I should be killed, and expect your "right" to harass me to be protected. Neither should you be able to go find a bunch of Jews and start talking about how Jews should die, or Hitler wasn't so bad (less direct, but same thing).

The entire point of it is that sometimes we need revolutionary ideas introduced into the political process, and that it is often the case that such ideas are found to be deeply offensive by many.

As a standalone, I agree with this bit. But it misses the point: my criterion is not to ban unpopular ideas, but intimidating and harassing ones.

If the idea is worthless or vile, it will fail in the "marketplace of ideas". But if it's unpopular but also important, then it must be given that chance.

Again, it's not that the ideas are bad, it's that speaking them hurts people.

Originally, the idea of giving women the vote was seen as radical, absurd, immoral. We now view it differently.

Going around saying "I think women should be allowed to vote" didn't harm men.

Nazism and bigotry are also immoral, and I want to make clear that I don't equate them with Women's Suffrage. But if we have confidence in our population, we defend ourselves against evil and harmful ideas by arguing against them, not by using the power of law to suppress them. The problem with use of censorship in that way is that it makes us stand on the edge of a precipice, where we can fall off. Once we start suppressing the Nazis, where do we stop?

My fear is definitely not that people would agree with the Nazis, and I agree censoring ideas for fear people might like them is wrong.

I do not agree with the Nazis. I despise what they stand for, and everything they advocate. And it is precisely because of this that I feel obligated to defend their right to express their point of view.

There are ways the Nazis could express their point of view that I would not object to. But finding some Jews to harass isn't one of them.

Would you feel safe walking through a crowd of Nazis with your children to spend some time at the park? Would there be police at the march? Why do you think they are there?

The point is precisely that law is not morality, and I do not think we should use the power of law to enforce morality.

I don't make distinctions about what it is and is not legitimate to make laws about. There is no system under which the vast majority of people think something is morally imperative, and then don't act on this. Regardless, laws certainly should be able to stop harassment as takes place at actual Nazi speeches (as opposed to the imaginary Utopian ones where they are all nice and friendly).

Morality enters into the situation in a different way. In the marketplace of ideas, it is public morality which will guarantee that the ideas of the Nazis will never become widespread. Since I have faith in the fundamental decency of the vast majority of my fellow citizens, I do not fear letting them be exposed to the ideas of groups like the Nazis, because I know they'll react to them the same way you and I do.

I too have such faith! That's really not my objection ^_^

Therefore, our nation and our system are not in peril because the Nazis are free to spout their hateful garbage. But if we start using the power of law to suppress those with whom we disagree, that actually creates the potential for a different peril in future which could end up endangering us all.

Letting the Nazis speak may be evil, but it is the lesser evil.

I understand concerns of a police state, but on the other end of the spectrum, are concerns of tolerance of evil, and moral relativism, and a society that doesn't stand up for right, which is also terrible. Thus "do everything possible to avoid a police state" would be the wrong strategy -- we must make judgments about what should be stopped.

So, to sum up, because Nazi rallies involve more than just communicating ideas (and this one in particular was intentionally targeted at a Jewish community), the ACLU need not and should not help them take place.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (4)
(see Gil's comments on last entry)

Police wanted to ban Nazi march b/c of threat to public safety.

Nazi march banned on basis of fear of violence. nazis march anyway.

Therefore, it seems odd the ACLU looks at Nazi marches as a "freedom of unpopular speech" issue, doesn't it? The issue is really how dangerous they are.

And about the Skokie/ACLU case in particular:

thousands fear him

For more than a year he terrorized the citizens of Skokie

and OMG look at this: The park district responded by informing Collin that he would be required to come up with a huge liability insurance policy to cover possible damages at the rally - a requirement the district knew he could not fulfill.

They wanted him to have insurance to cover the risks involved in the march, and knew he couldn't pay for that, so told him to go away. that's like QED

but that's not all: A simple recital of the events from April 27, 1977, to July 9, 1978, does not convey the mood that existed. Skokie's Jews were both terrified and infuriated at the prospect of Nazis marching in their midst.

Get it?

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
curi: Can I help?
Elliot: No.
curi: Why not?
Elliot: I said I'd write a real entry.
curi: Your point being?
Elliot: -_-o
curi: c'mon we can entertain the readers.
Elliot: If you want to be useful, think of ideas to blog about.
curi: Tell them the new Zelda game is out, that'll make their day.
Elliot: uh huh
curi: Fine then, tell them the war is going well and WMD have been found.
Elliot: I haven't been paying attention to the war, and plenty of people have and write that stuff. Just look at my sidebar.
curi: Yeah, but you're more interesting than those chumps. People want to hear your version.
Elliot: *^_^* I wouldn't know what to say about it anyway.
curi: You could tell them how cool a name Operation Wacky Iraqi Attacky is.
Elliot: IMAO is funny, I know that. That still doesn't give me anything to write.
curi: Write about something from an email list then.
Elliot: They all got boring and idiot-infested or something.
curi: Well aren't you just full of sunshine.
Elliot: feh
curi: Can I write your entry then? Please?
Elliot: Fine, whatever.

A Blog Entry By curi

Mwahahaha, I finally control they keyboard. It's mine, mine mine. What should I say first? I know: I hate Gil!!

Elliot: Wait a second
curi: What?
Elliot: You can't write that.
curi: Why the hell not?
Elliot: I don't hate Gil.
curi: So? What are you, a truth censor?
Elliot: Gah, fine, whatever.

OK, yay, so we hate Gil, and we also hate

Elliot: WAIT!
curi: What?
Elliot: What's this "we"?
curi: Elliot and curi, isn't it obvious?
Elliot: But you don't speak for me.
curi: I just did.
Elliot: Give me back the keyboard.
curi: Then you'll sit there and not write anything.
Elliot: Better than letting you piss everyone off.
curi: Oh, who cares.

So, we also hate Kevin Guess, and we hate everyone on the Rational Polyamory

Elliot: What the fuck!?

list except Justin and we hate the TCS Moderators and

Elliot: Give me that! *grabs at keyboard*

and we hate Saddam.... one second

curi: *kicks Elliot's ass*
Elliot: owww, that hurt
curi: shut up, bitch
Elliot: *cries*

teehee, ok, that's better. anyway, we also hate idiotarians and normals and people with bad epistemology and people with bad morality, and people who disagree with us.

weeeee, that was fun. ok, i think i'll answer some of Elliot's mail. he doesn't get anything but spam on the account he made for this blog *glares at readers*, so I'll skim email lists...

On the TCS list, Kevin Guess can see nothing to be gained by hating people. Keep in mind that we hate him. He also says from a Popperian perspective he has "almost no chance" of finding the complete truth of anything. My perspective is he shouldn't try to speak for Popper, especially if he wants to talk about the chance of getting something right. dumbfuck.

See, if you want to talk about what will happen in the future, you need to find good explanations. The best explanation is that someone like Kevin will not find anything near the truth. End of story. It's not "minimally likely" or anything that he'll find truth. No. It's just a bad explanation of reality that we won't adopt.

Next up, Kevin Guess wrote another post. He says if we hate moral relativists, and our children turn into moral relativists, we will have to hate our children, which is evil, and therefore we aren't allowed to hate moral relativists. Elliot already explained to Kevin that this "argument" has no content because it equally well objects to hating anything it is physically possible for our children to become. Kevin Guess, in idiotic fashion, repeated himself. Now it's my turn:

When creating Kevin Guess's children, we have to roll 17 times on the Majorly-Fucked-Up table, which gives an 83% chance of scoring Moral Relativist. So it makes sense Kevin would shy away from hating moral relativists (or fucked up kids). However, for good people, we don't have to roll on the Majorly-Fucked-Up table even once, so our kids can't be moral relativists. Hence we are safe to hate moral relativists.

lsdnlwl
;sjlsw

OK, sorry about that everyone. I went to the bathroom and curi types really fast, so yeah.... it's all lies, and I'll email Kevin so he doesn't think I talked about him behind his back. And now I'll end this entry before it gets any worse...

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)
This is amusing (actually lozza his other posts are *even better*, but whatever)

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We have decided to answer some common misconceptions. They shouldn't be common. *sigh*

Guns hurt people, therefore they are bad

Elliot: ummm, guns can be used to defend people too, they're just a tool to help us further our intentions.

curi: Guns only hurt monkeys unless you have crap aim.

Dolphins are intelligent

Elliot: ummmm, so if they had hands, they would have built underwater cities already, right? The obstacle is simply being stuck in a really useless body....

curi: Me thinks dolphin researchers can't tell the difference between dolphins and themselves. Me thinks this comments more on the researchers than the dolphins.

We have to hurt children to prepare them for a life that won't always be happy

Elliot: What if we didn't do this, and when our children had problems, we helped them, and so they never found out that life sucks? Wouldn't it then be true that it doesn't?

curi: just b/c *your* life sucks...

Liberals mean well

Elliot: Hence they wanted the torture of children in Iraq to continue indefinitely

curi: Hence they wanted the torture of children in Iraq to continue indefinitely

Recycling will save the world

Elliot: Most recycling uses tons of energy, and takes lots of work to do, and is actually *inefficient*. And save the world? From what?

curi: I have a really good recipe for hippie soup, to put all those atoms to better use.

The Sky Is Falling

Elliot: I don't have any bumps on my head, and I don't see anything falling, and there aren't any pieces of sky on the ground. It seems a rather good explanation that the sky is not falling.

curi: Are you on crack?

The quest for Iraqi oil costs the lives of too many babies to be justified

Elliot: We aren't going to Iraq to steal oil, and we aren't shooting at babies either.

Isyn: Actually, at 17,400 barrels per baby, we are doing better than the minimal justification mark of 15,000 barrels per baby.

curi: Heh, I thought the Iraqi program to crack open baby heads in search of oil was a better kept secret.

curi: oh wait, better response: BLOOD LIBEL!!!!!!!

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
Personal advice means advice that is contingent on the advice-giver being right about part of the receiver's personality/worldview (if giver wrong, then the advice is rather worthless).

Or we can make it better, by realising that it's a continuum not boolean (boolean variables can only have two values: true or false).

The extent to which advice is personal, is the extent to which the value/truth of the advice is contingent on advice-giver being right about part of the receiver's personality/worldview.

Also there's a different continuum of note: how personal the advice is.

This depends on two things:

- the complexity of the relevant parts of advice-receivers personality. if giver only must get simple part right, it's not very personal.

- societal norms/taboos

The extent to which advice is personal, and how personal the advice is, usually go hand in hand (lots of one, lots of the other) but do not have to.

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Ambiguity is fun. Like introduce a room: "Look, a room with mad chics."

(For the uninitiated: lots of; angry; insane)

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OK, so I was watching Lizzie McGuire *pauses for mad cheering* and anyway, Gordo and Lizzie were lab partners in science class, but this ep Gordo got a gf (girlfriend) who wanted him so he ditched Lizzie and she had to work alone. Not very nice! He also "had to" (his own view!) wait for gf at her locker between classes and buy her lunches. Understandably, he broke up with her after 30 minutes *g*. Stupid stereotyped "romantic" relationships.

And also, Lizzie and Miranda spied on Gordo, and he was insulted and hurt....but also happy because it proved they cared about him. *ahem* Just like when your bf/gf is jealous, that just proves s/he cares...right?

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I wrote this to the ARR list
Subject: Re: Too Close For Comfort


On Thursday, April 10, 2003, at 03:34 AM, Alice Bachini wrote:

XXXXXX wrote:

What if cutting one's own hair distresses long term friend?

As soon as one suspects that this might be the case, for example when one notices than one's friend starts crying whenever one mentions barbers', one should get sufficiently distant from one's friend that he no longer minds what one does to one's hair

Well, that is *one* approach (one can't help but notice the subject line, at this point). And it is true that with sufficient distance from everyone else, one will never have relationship problems. But this would be a lonely life.

There is another approach to relationships, which embraces intimacy instead of seeing it as a threat to autonomy. With this alternative approach, we will be wary of condemning our friends for hangups or even for moral wrongdoing. We will see joint problem solving, not as something to avoid via distance, but as an enjoyable venture conducive to more intimacy. We will not be frightened of "erosion of our personal domain" -- rather the opposite: we will welcome caring and closeness.

(presumably he is able to co-exist on the planet with others who cut their hair, it's only when he gets close that the problems start).

That certain problems only occur in close relationships, does not mean we should not have them. Certain problems only occur when you have kids, too. Or when you go out to dinner.

One should stay distant, and negotiate from there, until the problem is solved. If it remains unsolved, one should stay distant.

What if intimacy is conducive to solving problems of these sorts? It seems that the solution depends on detailed personal knowledge of each other.

But this reveals another divide: Is the goal to let the person with long hair do whatever she likes, or is it for the two friends to reach agreement? If we have the first goal, distance seems a good plan. But if we have the second -- if we find people caring about us to have value rather than be a burden -- then distance is not the right answer.

All this should happen before "long-term" has become one of the expectations of the friendship. People should not get involved with those who would impinge their basic freedoms against their will.

If one values these "basic freedoms" above all else, Alice is perfectly right. But that is not the only approach to life.

Note the "above all else" clause includes morality! For morality tells us that to get what we want -- to fully realise our intentions -- we must be open to changing those intentions to ones that are better realisable. And so, we cannot hold up rights as the be-all, end-all of everything. We must be willing to compromise them when doing so will help us.

When the wrongness is very ingrained, problems are very serious and it's simply too late to get away (distance) easily, gradually and carefully can sometimes work. Other times, bombs are required (laser-guided recommended).

Is the suggestion really that if we find our life intertwined with someone, and we find this person cares about our hair, we must destroy the relationship to get back our "freedom"?

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (3)
Some may wonder about my recent post regarding a Fabric of Reality book review: Why was it a blood libel? Did I, perhaps, over exaggerate?

I would begin by pointing out that a review of a science book, is not really the place to attack the author's politics. I'd also mention I know someone who thinks Zionism is Naziism, wants to blow up the US government, and various other nasty things .... but I still acknowledge he is pro children's rights. To say someone who supports Israel and the US, must be against children, is completely dishonest.

Anyway, to see why it's a blood libel, I'll translate 5 bits:

At the same time he appears to be a supporter of forces that are today turning children into victims.

"Turning children into victims" means hurting and killing children. The forces, we soon discover, means mostly Israel and a little bit the US...

I speak of Palestinian teenagers who are used as human shields in Israeli military operations against a civilian population.

The Jews kidnap teens, treat them as sub-human, and get some killed, to further their operations to murder civilians.

I speak of the more than 20% of Palestinian children who, according to a UN report, are suffering from acute malnutrition.

The Jews starve Palestinian children (or maybe distribute pamphlets with false nutritional advice).

I think of the Palestinian teenager from Jenin who said on television: "I have never seen, in my whole life, a single good day."

The Jews make life as a Palestinian hell.

I speak of the 2000 excess deaths per week of children in Iraq as a result of our economic blockade.

The Americans murder over 2,000 Iraqi children per week.

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One cool thing about knowledge-growing entities (people) vs other things, is that, while we can fully understand any specific thing, and so get bored with a toy, or a field of science, understanding a person *at a point in time* is not the end, b/c knowledge growth is not predictable, and person would soon be different.

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Go read this piece, it's good.

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Look, some junk science, of the Infuriatingly Evil variety (it hurts children)

These people ignore the simple fact that correlation does not imply causation. Then use correlations as an excuse to make up causes.

As to aspergers, here's a syllogism:

premise: Nick is perfectly normal.
premise: Nick *does* have the symptoms of asperger's
conclusion: the symptoms don't mean a fucking thing, they're just a list of common traits for "dorky" kids.

the real explanation of social ineptitude? parents who don't teach social skills. that simple.

SCIENTISM REALLY SUCKS

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)
Any given policy/law/institution, we know will, in the future, be different/better/obselete.

So, if governments are characterised by any specific thing, (like monopoly on initiating force [not that i concede that definition makes any sense]) that's the end of minarchy as a plausible concept.

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talk about a worldview/vocabulary gap.

i wrote something about good intentions being fulfillable (i'd write realisable, but I was trying to be easy to read)

and i meant intentions that are good.

and some guy read it as people who subjectively mean well, instead.

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i'm reading my old TCS posts. one esp cool feature, is rediscovering good ideas *of my own* that i'd forgotten. here's one:

Sometimes there are arguments about what things should be offered to kids. Some people acknowledge they should let their kids try things the kids might like, but then deny that kids might like ice cream, or chocolate, or whatever. And then people debate this. But doesn't the very fact that the item is worth debating, mean the kid *might* like it? By the very act of arguing about it, the anti-ice cream people lose the argument.

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okie, 'nother old idea i like.

p: if ya constrain sum1's choices, ur responsible for making the constraint not hurt person
p: having a kid, constrains kid's choices b/c "not be born" is out, ie ya make person live
c: parents r responsible for making being born not hurt kid

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (4)
Den Beste's worst blog is kinda shockingly evil. *sigh*

all the rest of the non-tcs-affilliated right-wing warblogs do it too, and most more often than Den Beste.

UPDATE: sum1 suggested it's Den Worste blog. *g*

and i just noticed i didn't say what "it" was outloud. AGEISM. demeaning children. slandering babies. comparing youth and evil via metaphor.

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looking at more old TCS posts. here's an important idea, though not one I'd forgotten about:

Fallibillity, does not imply any particular mistake. No real-life failure can ever be blamed on fallibility. which may sound kinda "duh". but ppl ignore this quite often.

for example, sum1 might mention hitting his kid once, and say he was taken over by passion (a diff error) and that mistakes happen (bingo). the fact that mistakes happen, in no way excuses this particular one, whihc was avoidable.

the problem with the passion excuse is all the passion means is that he was in the right environment to act on a facet of his personality that he usually doesn't.

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I'm now the top google hit for Elliot Temple, with or without quotes. :-D

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The generalisation that all generalisations are wrong, is self-contradictory and therefore false. An example of the relevance of this truism can be found in the comments on this blog entry.

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An Unsealed Room posted a response completely missing the point.

I've Just Been Accused of Child Abuse

No, cruelty to children. Child Abuse has connotations of doing something illegal, and getting children sent to a foster home by CPS (Child Protective Services in US) and such. Child abuse usually involves hitting children, or neglecting to feed them, or raping them or the like. Trying to paint my claims as absurd by changing them, is wrong.

Why? Because I have the audacity to complain about the schools being on strike on the heels of a 19-day vacation. (And it looks as if this strike could stretch beyond a week.)

Well, no. I wasn't supporting the strike. I was upset that Allison finds having her children home from school insane-making. And would deny them the pleasure they get from holidays.

[short snip]

Elliot Temple left the following comment: Doesn't it seem a bit perverse for a parent to moan and groan that he or she "has to" (gets to!) spend more time with his or her children? And don't you know how much children tend to like breaks from school?

I sure did. And though Allison knows every word I used, she still hasn't understood a sentence of it. (She doesn't find my comment worthy of a reply, either.)

Now he has ceremoniously delinked me from his blog because of my "cruelty to children." (he also didn't like that I let my son go on a field trip without a gas mask after the fall of Baghdad, but before the official "all clear" sign was given.)

No, my objection wasn't that she "let" her son go without the mask, (what is he a dog that you let run off leash...sometimes?) it's rather that her son *wanted* the mask, and she refused to stand up for him to the trip supervisor. She only does that if he's really hurt. Not merely distressed (coerced).

Anyone who would like to support me in the position that a month away from school is not something that a working parent who cares about their child's education should celebrate is welcome to do so....

It's notable that she appeals to the parental conspiracy for support. It's also notable that her appeal lies about what the issue is. She must know perfectly well my objection is not "children shouldn't learn".

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To be clear, every non-TCS blog I link to would find itself delinked if it wrote about children often enough. And don't tell me, "they're normal, get over it." Normal people are cruel to children, and I want to remain outraged by it.

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this *should be* uncontroversial:

The choice "shooting at a terrorist" is not the choice "killing an innocent" even tho ppl sometimes miss. Morality comes down to choices, not results.

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on Dawson's Creek this guy wanted his gf back, and gave a speech (over a loudspeaker at an airport, weeeeee) but anyway, nothing in his speech was contingent on the girl ('sides her name *g*). she's amazing. rocks his world. he loves her. he's sorry. he wants things to work out. he's sure they will. etc It's striking how little actual content the lives of any of the ppl on Dawson's Creek have (or many other similar shows too). But I suppose it is orders of magnitude harder to write the details, and might not actually be good for ratings either.

the lack of consent secured before attempting to kiss people also never ceases to amaze me.

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Steven Den Beste, a mechanist atheist, writes:

And even among mechanists there's no particular consensus about such things as ethics, because the basic axiom of mechanistic atheism (that the only thing which exists is the material universe and the matter within it, which interacts according to the laws of physics) doesn't provide any kind of guidance in those areas.

Actually, mechanist atheism as defined here, does give guidance about ethics: it states that ethics (and more generally, explanations) do not exist. This comes from the simple premise that ethics are neither matter nor laws of physics.

A much better way to approach existence, is to consider things to exist if they are necessary to explaining reality. This still includes the laws of physics, and all the matter in the "material universe" and still fails to include God or faeries, but this time does include explanations.

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A friend thinks it's an important implication of mechanist atheism (rightly construed) that we should not go looking for moral explanations in the supernatural. I kinda thought that was a bit "duh" to write. We shouldn't look for *any* explanations in the supernatural.

But I guess it *is* true that lots of atheists think morality is a religious concept, and cannot exist otherwise. *sigh*

UPDATE:

As David Deutsch points out:

That last sentence there is a special case of a more general thing, namely that religious people and scientistic people have this great area of agreement, namely that reason cannot reach beyond math and science. In fact, beyond mathematical proof or scientific prediction, most of them would say.

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Thanks to Elegance Against Ignorance for linking this Lord of the Rings themed Chomsky parody.

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Here's a good demonstration that asking the wrong questions is just as much a cause of mental masturbation as being a dolt. No offence to the author is intended, but this particular piece is mostly a waste of time, because it focuses on pointless questions (at least the bits I read -_-o).

See, it worries about whether atheism is *proveable* and other stuff about proof. But fallibility tells us that certainty isn't possible (and that this isn't not an obstacle to knowledge or truth). What matters is what the best explantion of reality is, and that's what a discussion of the truth of atheism ought to focus on.

Note that "fallibility tells us" is no more than arguing in terms of high-level concepts; it is *not* any sort of appeal to the authority of the principle of fallibility, and *not* an unsupported assertion.

UPDATE:

read a bit more. look at this "Within mechanistic atheism, you have people who think that atheism is somehow scientific and actually can be proved, and others who understand that atheism is a religious belief which is no more susceptible to actual proof than any other religious belief." *sigh*

and i should mention the focus on proof isn't the only manifestation of asking the wrong questions causing the piece to be mostly pointless. and also that it does have some truth in it anyway.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)
Remembered a nice line about atheism: "When you understand why you don't believe in every logically possible God, you'll understand why I don't believe in yours."

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Posted to the TCSsociety yahoogroup (which you should join):

Taxes go to help an (imperfect) tradition do Good Things(TM) that *can't be done any other way*, but should be done. And also, that tradition is open to criticism, and thus improvement, and is actually the only feasible path currently available to a good, tax-free society. Now, being coerced by taxes requires an active "I don't want to pay taxes" theory while paying them. But one shouldn't have such a theory, because taxes are good. And thus taxes only coerce (in the TCS sense) people with hangups.

Laws are to create consent, just like rules in boardgames. Consent over what? What society should be like. And why should society be like anything, instead of just every doing what they like? The same reason that a chess board is more fun with rules. Because autonomy of action is pretty damn worthless; creating and realising good purposes is valuable.

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someone said the US is less free than Switzerland b/c in Switzerland tax evasion isn't criminal. are these people on crack or something?

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if you like D&D, go here

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Rachel Lucas wrote something bad :-/

note esp this quote "the prof is super cool and just likes to see how stupid college kids are."

it is wrong for teachers to take joy in ridiculing students, in feeling their students to be inferior, or in harassing students (like they want this).

it's also wrong to put off-topic stuff on tests for credit.

btw, as trivia, ne1 wanna put the answers in comments? *g*

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bloody hell. now den beste thinks evidence against atheism is physically possible. link

UPDATE: to be clearer, evidence like observations not philosophical arguments. no sensory input will make my a mystic. there are no faeries. even if we discover small pink winged things we name fairies. there is no God, even if we find some guy who ruins our ideas of physics, and call him god.

and no i'm not just being stubborn in the face of proof atheism is crap. the notions of God and faeries contain untestable bad (and by bad, i mean unspeakably horrific) explanations. when atheists say there is no god, (at least sane ones), it means the one that can't be criticised by any possible observation. and thanks to this shield, can't be confirmed either. he's just silly, like the invisible, ethereal (yet able to push) angel explanation of gravity.

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Algorithmic Animal Behavior

If studied closely, animals can be seen (at least in some cases like these examples) to follow simplistic, algorithmic behavior patterns (like software where the designer didn't think about some potential cases).

source

The digger wasp, for instance, seems to display highly intelligent brood-tending behavior. Having dug a nest, it flies off in search of a caterpillar, overpowers and kills it, drags it into the nest, and lays eggs on it. The emerging young are thereby provided with the nourishment they need and find protection in the nest, which the wasp seals. Interrupt the sequence of partactions, however, and it soon becomes clear that no form of intelligence is at work here. Returning to its hole with the caterpillar, the wasp first deposits it in the entrance and inspects the interior, then reappears at the entrance, head foremost, and drags its quarry inside. If, while the wasp is inspecting its hole, the caterpillar is removed and deposited some distance away, the wasp will continue to search until it has rediscovered the caterpillar and then will drag it to the entrance again, whereupon the whole cycle-depositing, inspecting, etc. – begins all over again. Take away the caterpillar ten or twenty times, and the wasp will still deposit it at the entrance and embark on a tour of the hole, with which it is thoroughly familiar by this time. The insect continues to be guided by the same commands, in computer fashion, and evidently finds it hard to make any change in the overall sequence. Only after thirty or forty repetitions will the wasp finally drag the caterpillar into its nest without further inspection. Yet the digger wasp shows a great aptitude for learning where other procedures are concerned. While in flight, it memorizes the route which it must take on the ground when returning to the nest with its prey – a very considerable feat of learning. On the other hand, the burial of its prey is an instinctive action and, thus, strongly programmed. The wasp is almost incapable of influencing or altering this part of its behavior by learning, because it is controlled by an innate and extremely incorrigible mechanism.


and

Once stimulated, whole cycles of action can proceed by themselves. In the squirrel, food storing consists of the following part-actions: scraping away soil, depositing the nut, tamping it down with the muzzle, covering it over, and pressing down the soil. A squirrel reared indoors will still perform these actions in full, even in the absence of soil. It carries the nut into a corner, where it starts to dig, deposits the nut in the (nonexistent) hole, rams it home with its muzzle (even though it merely rolls away in the process), covers up the imaginary hole, and presses down the nonexistent soil. And the squirrel still does all these things even when scrupulous care has been taken to ensure that it has never set eyes on a nut before or been given an opportunity to dig or conceal objects.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (16)
Instapundit says, talking about an explosion at Yale: "The obvious explanation, though -- a student trying to stop an exam -- seems very unlikely at Yale" (and then gives sensible reasons about Yale).

Isn't it amazing that people know, and generally accept, (part of) what schools do to kids? How much stress, pressure, despair, and anguish they cause? A bomb to stop a fucking test isn't far fetched -- it's the obvious explanation. but will this lead Glenn to question schools? no.

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Gil told a funny joke: It's not the school that I hate; it's the principal of the thing!

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read this article on Israel's use of assassination to fight terror. and, (this goes without saying) for the love of God (or the love of yourself, or whatever) read the short history of Israel on The World.

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Your search - "competent epistemology" - did not match any documents. (on Google)

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lookie, a real entry!! ^^

CPs are *not* a ritual. CP = non-coercion.

(sane) libertarians *like* democracy.

using voting to make decisions and thinking you've set up the same thing as the US government is a cargo cult approach

rules are important even for good people because functioning without them is harder, and we have limited energy

deduction doesn't create certain knowledge

every choice you make, excludes choosing otherwise.

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a reader pointed out not all readers know what CP is.

CP = common preference. common preference = a solution to a problem that all parties prefer. Not a compromise, but everyone getting what they want. This doesn't mean what they initially want, but allows for changing what is wanted.

the reason that CP is the same as non-coercion, is that in all cases where no one is coerced -- where everyone enacts one theory that has no active rivals -- then a CP happened, b/c everyone's prefered theory happens. and in all cases where someone was coerced, no CP was found, b/c someone did not prefer what happeneed.

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Just read a romantic (supposedly) sex story.

What's striking is the lack of contingent (on the people involved) details. The guy is a rugby star. The girl, ummm, uhhhh, oh she's hot. They meet. He's inept, she's amused. They meet again, talk, and kiss. They write each other often. Though they converse often, we know not what about. (They both go to not-co-ed, strict boarding schools and thus can't meet much). Winter break comes. They get to see each other now. They fuck. He says he loves her. And then it says they're still together 30 years later.

For one thing, the power of these stereotypes (memes) is demonstrated. The people don't matter. They control countless lives of all different sorts. Truly amazing in a kind of morbid way.

For another, just story wise, contingent details are what give a story life. What make the characters interesting. It's rather dull when the protagonists don't have personalities -- when they are fungible not unique. Sadly, IME, this story is one of the *better* ones of the genre. Perhaps I'd have better luck with pulped dead tree format. (If that doesn't ring a bell, go read Exploitation Now already.)

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ok started reading another but i got all the way to the 2nd paragraph and just had to bitch about it!

It would be their first time alone together, without a group of friends around. Jane's heart raced as she realized what it meant to be on a real date with Eric. For so long, they had just been friends, and she wasn't sure how she should act.

You can't just change a relationship by fiat (declaring that you are dating).

Interactions are interactions, again declaring one to be different doesn't work.

Although if we take "date" as a codeword for "now we're allowed to fuck" I suppose it makes sense. Even the bit about not being sure how to act.

For fun, go around asking dating couples if by dating they mean "allowed to fuck". heheh, ask some no-premarital-sex Christians why they are dating. maybe to be allowed to kiss -_-o

Joe: I want a girlfriend
curi: you're horny?
Joe: *gets offended* lonely!
curi: so you want a friend?
Joe: that's a girl
curi: why a girl?
Joe: not attracted to guys
curi: what difference does that make? you said this isn't a horny thing.
Joe: erm, uhhh
curi: you make no sense
Joe: SHUT UP
Joe: Yo, Dianne, will you go out with me?
Dianne: yes
curi: why'd you agree?
Dianne: i wanna date, and no one else asked
curi: you slut!
Dianne: excuse me? i'm a total prude!
curi: so you just want some free meals?
Dianne: nooooo
curi: you'll kiss him in return?
Dianne: noooooo
curi: fine, you explain it
Dianne: he'll buy me stuff, and then we might fall in love. Isn't that romantic?
curi: what if he doesn't wanna pay?
Dianne: i'm new agey. i might allow it.
curi: how kind!
Dianne: aren't I, though?
curi: so anyway, if you two were friends, who didn't date, you might fall in love, right?
Dianne: I guess
curi: so what's the point of dating?
Dianne: how else would i meet my soul mate?
curi: you think going out with one person at a time, who you pick by who asks you, is a good way to find a soul mate?
Dianne: Joe, help!
Joe: *punches curi*
curi: *falls over*

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
(same story as last entry) "It was so hard to tell what Jane was thinking most of the time. It was frustrating, but oddly attractive."

he doesn't know her -- this is attractive
la de da


ok, after reading the rest of the story, it was so inspiring, that i'm now writing my own Worst Romance Story Ever. look forward to it, lolz

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Worst Romance Story Ever

Eric and Jane had been friends for as long as they could remember -- which wasn't very long given the amount of pot they smoked. Eric and Jane were always at the same parties, 'cause they had the same group of friends. One day, Eric got up the courage to ask Jane out. He'd had a crush on her for six months.

Jane liked Eric too, but she never said anything. She secretly hoped he would ask her out. Then, one day, he did, totally out of the blue. Jane went weak in the knees and said yes. They would go out Friday night, just the two of them.

Eric couldn't wait for Friday to come, he was so excited. Soon he would be with Jane alone! But on Thursday Eric got nervous. He worried he wouldn't be a stud and Jane would dump him. He worried Jane might forget the date. As a precaution, Eric didn't smoke pot all week. Except twice.

Jane did forget the date. But fortunately on Thursday Eric's friend reminded her. She was so happy, again! That night she dreamed that Eric would give her a rose and buy her a nice dinner, and they would talk, and then they would go to the beach and walk in the moonlight, and then Eric would kiss her. Then Jane woke up, a little embarrassed.

When the time came to pick Jane up, Eric was scared. But he liked her a lot, so he went. Jane looked beautiful, and Eric said so. Jane blushed and smiled. When they got to the restaurant, they were nervous. Eric said if only they were high, this would be easier, because he would be more relaxed and right now he was nervous. Jane was nervous too, but Eric's comment broke the tension. After that they relaxed and talked and had a nice meal.

Jane felt so comfortable with Eric that she completely trusted him and was really happy. Eric felt like he never had before. The date was going so well. The waiter even made a comment about young love, and Jane blushed, and Eric stammered for him to go away. But the incident only brought the young couple closer together.

After they finished eating, Eric stared at Jane for a while. And Jane stared at Eric. They wanted things to continue. Eventually, Eric got up the courage to ask Jane to go walk on the beach with him. In the moonlight, the beach was really pretty. Jane remembered her dream, and also she liked the beach, so she smiled and Eric smiled back. They held hands and walked and talked.

After they walked a while, they sat down on a big piece of driftwood. It was cold, so Eric put his arm around Jane. Jane snuggled closer to Eric. They felt like they were in heaven. Jane said she was so happy Eric had asked her out. Eric was encouraged and kissed Jane. The kiss was magical. It was even better than being high.

Eric looked into Jane's eyes. They were so pretty. Eric said so. Jane smiled and kissed Eric. She was happy he liked her. Jane said she liked Eric. Eric said he liked her too. They kissed again and Jane noticed Eric was hard. She touched the bulge in his pants. Eric took Jane's other hand in his and squeezed encouragingly. Soon Jane opened the fly and took out Eric's dick. Eric groaned happily.

Jane had never seen a dick before in the flesh. Eric had never had anyone else touch his dick. Next Eric took off Jane's shirt and caressed her breasts. Jane got wet and enjoyed the sensations. Eric rubbed Jane down there, and true bliss was known to Jane. It wasn't long before the couple was naked. Jane begged Eric to enter her. Eric was only too happy to oblige.

Fortunately Jane's hymen was broken doing gymnastics, so Eric entered smoothly. Jane's sweet love-hole felt so good around Eric's dick, he was in heaven. Jane got really hot, and her breathing came quickly. She had never felt like this before! Soon, she had an explosion of pleasure, and briefly lost touch with reality as she orgasmed. Eric orgasmed too, and it was so good it blew away masturbation. Eric told Jane she made him feel so good, and Jane said the same to Eric.

They lay on the beach, and looked at the stars, and held each other in their arms, enjoying the moment. Eric turned to Jane and said "I love you, Jane." Jane said "I love you too, Eric." And they drifted off to sleep together, in the moonlight.

Eric and Jane loved each other so much, that they stopped smoking pot, because they wanted to remember that special night for all their lives. Thirty years later, they still remembered, and still loved each other. And they lived happily ever after, in love.

------------

Worst Political Thriller Ever

Eric and Bill were diplomats from different countries. They had been colleagues for as long as they could remember. They were always at the same international conferences, because they had specialised in the same sub-field of international relations. One day, Eric got up the courage to sound Bill out as a possible agent. He'd had been considering the possibility of such an approach for six months.

Bill respected Eric too, but he never said anything. He secretly hoped Eric would sound him out. Then, one day, Eric did, totally out of the blue. Bill secretly congratulated himself and said yes. They would meet at a secure location on Friday night, without even their interpreters present.

Eric couldn't wait for Friday to come, he was so excited. Soon he would be negotiating for a new agent in person! But on Thursday Eric got nervous. He worried he wouldn't convey sufficient authority and Bill would not wish to negotiate with him.

Bill dreamed that Eric would give him some important piece of intelligence as a mark of good faith, and they would discuss their speciality together, and then Eric would recruit him as an agent. Then Bill woke up, a little ashamed.

When the time came to go to the secure location, Eric was scared. But he had to trust his judgement, so he went. Bill looked serious, and Eric said so. Bill smiled enigmatically. At first they were nervous. After that they relaxed and talked business.

Eric told Bill an important piece of intelligence as a mark of good faith. Then Bill told Eric one, from his country. Then Eric told Bill another piece of intelligence. Then Bill told Eric one. Then Eric told Bill one. Then Bill told Eric one. Then Eric told Bill one. Then Bill told Eric one. Then Eric told Bill one. Then Bill told Eric one. Then Eric told Bill one. Then Bill told Eric one. Then Eric told Bill one. Then Bill told Eric one. Then Eric told Bill one. Then Bill told Eric one. Then Eric told Bill one. Then Bill told Eric one. Then Eric told Bill one. Then Bill told Eric one. Then Eric told Bill one. Then Bill told Eric one. Then Eric told Bill one. Then Bill told Eric one. Then Eric told Bill one. Then Bill told Eric one. Then Eric told Bill one. Then Bill told Eric one. Then Eric told Bill one. Then Bill told Eric one. Then Eric told Bill one.

Eric and Bill formed an excellent working relationship. Bill became Eric's agent and Eric was Bill's handler and the arrangement they had together was mutually profitable for over thirty years.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)
I posted about children on LGF here.

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I wrote a comment in this thread on The World. Actually several, but I mean the one at the bottom (right now, hopefully not forever) on the fungibility of human copies.

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I took a quiz ^^

You're Perfect ^^
-Perfect- You're the perfect girlfriend. Which
means you're rare or that you cheated :P You're
the kind of chick that can hang out with your
boyfriend's friends and be silly. You don't
care about presents or about going to fancy
places. Hell, just hang out. You're just happy
being around your boyfriend.


What Kind of Girlfriend Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

To start, I think the Mercurial mark on the pic is a bit scary. The perfect gf is moody!? I'll translate loving to caring so it's fine, and wait on tomboyish.

It's also scary that the description isn't pretty normal. Many people (more than half for sure) ought to be able to hang out with their SO's (significant other's) friends, at least a fair bit, because most people have similar tastes to SO. Getting all hung up on presents, fancy places ..... can we say annoying hangups? Happy being around SO .... well that better be true!

WRT tomboyish, I have a theory that the stereotypes boys are supposed to follow are better (morally) than the ones for girls. Not all of them, and not in all spheres, but yeah...... I'm not going to defend this right now. I think I'll go look for online journals.

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omfg (anti-Americanism)

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Reading an article on blogging I ran into the phrase, "the thrill of teaching a child to spell." That ought to be the thrill of a child learning to spell, and parents ought not try to take the credit.

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Andrew Sullivan writes: One reason I find some of the grand-standing over WMDs increasingly preposterous is that it comes from people who really want to avoid the obvious: more and more it's clear that the liberation of Iraq was a moral obligation under any circumstances. People say to this argument that if we depose one dictator for these kinds of abuses, where will we stop? But the truth is: very few dictators have resorted to imprisonment or mass killing of children. Saddam's evil was on a world-historical scale. Ending it was one of the most prgressive things the United States and Britain and their allies have ever done.

Not that he's wrong, per se, but there's a better answer to when we will stop removing evil dictators from power: we won't! This isn't a slippery slope to something bad, it's a slippery slope to no more evil dictators. The only thing stopping us is what we *can* do, not what we'd like to.

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Feels like I have't linked IMAO enough.

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I read somewhere about the incompatible pairs problem where you have a list of things, and a list of pairs that are incompatible (ie you can't pick both from a pair). You have to pick a certain number from the list w/out violating any of the incompatible pairs. It said solving with brute force (construct all possible answer lists ignoring the pairs, then go through and test them all) takes too much computing resources to be feasible (except with very small list and pair list). If you have to pick x things from n options with p incompatible pairs, brute force would take n! / ( x! * (n-x)! ) to get our lists and then *2px for worst case (our lists are size x and we gotta check p pairs and the simplest way is to scan list to find one half the of the pair, then scan for the other half ... not efficient but whatever). anyway, the important thing is that n!. factorial is evil and owns all the other numbers.

Anyway, I can do it using 2^p lists in the worst case, which is loads better usually (big n and not-insanely-big p), but still exponential resources use. my technique reminds me of MWI ^^ ok, start with 2 copies of the list of items. now take the first incompatible pair (1, 2) for any 1 and 2, and scratch 1 off one list, and scratch 2 off the other list, so they become differentiated. next up, take another pair, and for each list we have, differentiate it into 2 and mark off 1 on one list and 2 on the other. if a list has 1 or 2 missing, you don't have to split it this step, so we're not actually gonna use the full 2^p lists. not sure how to approximate how many we really will use. anyway, after you go through all the pairs, you'll have lots of lists with various amounts of items remaining. take all the ones with enough items, and for the ones with extra, use some combinatorics to get all the possible ways to pick x things out of them if you want. another way to save resources is if a list ever gets too small just delete it and never split it again.

anyway, anyone know a better way or another cool problem?

oh, umm, an example of an incompatible pairs problem: you have an apartment complex with space for x people and you want it full, a list of n applicants, and a list of p pairs of applicants who fight and thus you can't have both.

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from comments, woty wrote: A person has a sibling. What are the chances that the sibling is the same gender as they are? (it's not 50%)

and Gil gave this answer: MF FM FF and MM are the possiblities, we'll go with boys, so FF is out, and MM is once of the 3 options, so 1/3 chance. this is a well-known answer.

anyway, that's WRONG

it *is* 50%. the above answer does not take into account anything about the possibility of meeting either sibling. the MM option is really *two* options, meeting *either* the younger or older sibling.

another way to put it, is: if you've met the older sibling, the options are FM and MM which is 50/50 either way. and if you met the younger sibling, the options are MF and MM which is also 5/50 either way.

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Two troubled turtles trotted to the temple. There they told the templekeeper their troubles. Twice they'd tried, twice trashed: transforming tricky tensors too tough. The templekeeper told them to travel to the true temple to try the tenfold tensor trial there. Three trials of transforming tensors, three tribulations to triple tempo, two to try triangulating, then turning ten tridecagons to two tensors, then throwing trigons through the target. Temple trial taken, tempo tripled, tensor transforming totally terrific, the two turtles travelled to the terrible trap: two tests Thursday.

If you want to continue the story, you can in comments. You could do a diff letter if you wanted. I might later, if I feel like it.

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Elliot: David Carr wrote:
I keep thinking of the 350,000 or so British and Commonwealth citizens who sacrificed their lives in World War II. If only they could have known just how wickedly the freedom they died defending was going to be betrayed, they would have stayed in bed.
Elliot: *sigh*
curi: It's been betrayed now?? Hell, this always happens! I don't watch the news for one day, and the Nazis seize power!
curi: When was this? And is Blair alive?
Elliot: lol

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Emailed To: Glenn Reynolds of InstaPundit
Subject: If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever.

Dear Glenn Reynolds,

You wrote: "I felt sorry for the poor students in the Bar Review course -- I well remember that studying for the bar combined stress and excruciating boredom in a fashion that nothing else has equalled."

I found your characterisation of what the students are currently experiencing quite moving, and I have no doubt that it is accurate. But I wonder, have you considered why such suffering still need exist in the most advanced civilisation ever? One would think much creativity would be devoted to reduce this suffering. But it is not. Do you know why?

-- Elliot Temple
http://curi.blogspot.com/

UPDATE: If ya didn't know, the quote for a subject line is from 1984 by George Orwell. I hope Glenn knows.... *g*

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Elliot: is the EU funding hamas?
curi: Heh. Not directly. but EU money has been flowing into Hamas by various routes. The EU Commission has just instituted a "study" to try to prevent EU money from reaching Hamas.
Elliot: -_-o
curi: 'Not giving them any' is of course ruled out as a method. That would be simplisme.
Elliot: LOL

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Was reading Seduction Strategies and one said to "win his/her trust" which is strikingly different from being trustworthy.

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Some think the path to happiness is to get what one wants. And parallel to this, is the theory that with enough money, to buy whatever one likes, happiness will come.

Some think the path to happiness is to want what one has. And parallel to this, is the theory that money and things are distractions and obstacles to true happiness.

Both extremes are false. We must both seek to get what we want (more generally, do what we intend) but we must also seek to want the right things (have (morally) good intentions).

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Look at this!

To tutor kids for the SATs, you need a fucking BA. The SATs cover algebra 1 and half a year of geometry, if ya didn't know. Equally "hard" lit stuffz. so silly

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Did you like this piece on The World? Here's more answers:

Christians: We will be holding a prayer session this evening at 8pm.

TCSers: We blame her parents.

Hans Blix: I believe she was hiding Saddam's WMD.

Psychiatrists: We believe she had a traumatic incident in a canal during her childhood.

Her Husband: That traitorous bitch had a girl on purpose!

Gun Nut: We need a gun in every Egyptian household.

TCS Gun Nut: At least arm the six little girls!

Feminist: The wrong person is dead.

Socialist: This is the inevitable result of Egypt's capitalist economy.

Socialist: The State should have redistributed some of the female children to other families and given them a boy instead.

Socialist: The solution is a state-sponsered GDP or Gender Redistribution Program. We consider this a higher priority than a traditional GDP.

Social Worker: If only the US hadn't cut food aid to Egypt by 43.2% this year, this never would have happened.

Social Worker: The US increased food aid to Egypt 200% this year, but there was so much we haven't been able to distribute it all yet. It is the responsibility of the West to feed the hungry, and when the West fails, they are responsible for the consequences.

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Stupid French

At least they're funny:

De Villepin also urged Hamas to make more efforts in ending terrorist acts from Palestinian militants. "We call on Hamas to demonstrate that they are against all terrorist activities," he said.

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All this D&D info is free and online: SRD!

It's like the open content anyone can use if they wanna make d20 products, but it basically has almost all the rules/stats in all 3 core books, sans flavor text, examples, etc... And unlike pdfs of the books, this is legal.

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IMAO writes:

* The symptoms of monkey pox are fever and itchy rashes. It's not much fun, but, if you're young, I'd say it's worth it to skip a couple days of school.

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You can't do 'precision' with a sufficiently young person. because, being good Popperians, they only use as much precision as is needed for their problem situation.

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okie, time to reply to Virtue Pure

but first, heheh, i wanna link to this other new blog: Virtual Purity. it's commentary on Virtue Pure.

anyway, Mr Virtue Hat (sorry! couldn't resist) gave the following sum up:

- Few of the posts have much content, but some are very good.
- Elliot likes to post jokes, especially ones that contain arguments.
- Elliot extends posting jokes, to posting amusing, off-topic things.
- Elliot also posts other off-topic things he is interested in, even though his readers may not be.
- Elliot rarely bothers with the form of his blog. This is striking in his capitalisation and abbreviations, although, excepting words that are intentionally misspelled or abbreviated, his spelling is pretty good.
- Elliot often makes cryptic statements, or obscure references, with no explanation.
- Even Elliot's lucid views are sometimes found without explanation or argument.
- Almost all of Elliot's posts are short, and I get the impression he spends very little time on each.
- Elliot is sometimes offensive. Some of it is intentional; he likes to ridicule positions he deems worthy of such treatment. But some of it appears to be poor judgment.


okie, as far as capitalisation, i say he's just over-picky. u can totally read uncapitalised words. abbreviations too. *thinks of The Simpsons* Bart was writing on the chalkboard "I will not use abbrevs" over and over. heheh. umm, as for on-topic, it's my damn blog, and if I like video games, they're on topic. if you don't like it, go away!! (wait, stop, i didn't mean it!)

i understand the criticisms about incomplete or missing explanations, but insist there are other relevant factors. however, they're private... the same factors apply to form and topics issues, too, btw.

as for being offensive, i don't know what the fuck that asshole is talking about. *ahem* I mean I challenge him to find any instances of impropriety to back up that wild accusation.

PS i know i owe an explanation of the Worst Romance Story Ever and a post on static memes.

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i used to work for a store
it was such a bore
now i'm a whore
i get paid more

I'm such the poet!

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so i was reading this newspaper article on economics, and it was ok, a little scary how stupid it says most ppl are, but anyway, it mentions the broken window fallacy (if you break a window, it creates a job to fix the window, so you helped the economy *ahem*). and it just has to give the example this way: "Some teenagers, being the little beasts they are, toss a brick through a bakery window." grrrrr

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IMAO quotes Jonah Goldberg who says:

"Affirmative action is based upon the assumption that blacks cannot compete with whites. But if I say that blacks can't compete with whites, I'm a racist."

^^

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okie, worst romance story ever explanation. here's a link to the entry for reference

here's some correspondence from when i wrote it, to someone who liked the story(!)

the real goal was to give the characters absolutely no personality of any sort. the exception being the pot thing. i give no motivations for them liking each other, refuse to detail what they talk about, and just appeal to stereotypes for everything.

Another point is I wrote the entire story without planning ahead, and with no intention to have a plot. Just following stereotypes. I think that's a bit scary.


pot was important cause it made the story less boring to write. this was removed from the political thriller, which is otherwise *exactly the same story* except in a diff genre and w/ 2 guys. the political story is intended to demonstrate to someone who thinks the romance story wasn't bad, that the content of the story really was.

btw this is not to say that the events the story detailed were a bad thing in the romance story. (note they obviuosly aren't bad in the "thriller"). on the whole, i'd say the events were good for eric and jane. but that doesn't redeem the *story*; it still has no contingent details or anything else of interest. oh also, although i took this to a greater extreme than any stories i've read, many stories are super super light on contingent details. now i admit they are hard to write, but i also claim they are what make stories good. just as we shouldn't live out stereotypes, reading them shouldn't be interesting as a story (although it could be to learn about them, Know Thy Enemy kinda deal).

btw i'm a big roleplaying fan. and i'm perfectly willing to roleplay stereotypes, cause it's a great way to learn more about them. however, i of course can't RP the same stereotype too much w/out getting totally bored. similarly, reading too many stereotype only stories ought to be hella dull. ought to....

oh also one use of stereotypes is to facilliate ppl interacting smoothly w/out knowing each other well. just follow some stereotype roles u both know and *boom* u get along. can be good for RPing heroes that work 2gether (in games where the main focus is no inter-party interaction). however, in real life, this no way to conduct relationships (where the focus *is* interacting with the other *person*, not interacting w/ a stereotype) (this is one of the bad things the story illustrates). i suppose u could legitly use stereotyped interactions IRL if u had some other goal, like if u wanna be on a sports team, and get along w/ ppl despite being anti-social, so u can get ppl to warm-up w/ u and give u advice, u might try a stereotyped personality, since it's easier than designing one and u already have lozza experience w/ various stereotypes.

given this entry is a bit lacking in the thesis/direction part, ummm, feel free to bug me to expand on some point or other.

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you might find the articles here interesting. they're mostly about education but by a computer science guy and with comp sci themes.

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i can't remember if i linked this poem before. reading it again won't hurt you anyway. it's very good.

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Blizzard North (smaller half of Blizzard, made Diablo) has 3 fully stocked kitchens including lozza "junk food". they also buy several copies of every computer game that comes out, and employees can even take them home to use. companies treating employees like people is cool ^^ (economically sound too).

sources: 1 and 2

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Scrappleface is a bastard

Senator John Kerry, a professional Vietnam veteran, dressed in full camo and slung a semi-automatic rifle over his shoulder. His wife, Teresa Heinz, gave him two weeks allowance, and kissed his forehead.

it really is possible to be funny w/out being anti-children every few days. if u haven't figured out why this is anti-kids, it's b/c John Kerry is being treated like a child (btw children shouldn't be treated like that) and this is supposed to be insulting to him. feh

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Ali G ownz, here's some interview transcripts:

Ali G with: Madonna

John Barnes

Elton John

various

Alejandro A. Alonso (some guy who knows about gangs in Los Angeles) [this one has an mp3 at the bottom of an article]

Victoria Peckham aka Posh Spice



Protester: 'Well, violence doesn't solve anything, does it?

Ali G: 'No, it does.'

Protester: 'Not really'In what situation?'

Ali G: 'In a violent one.'

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*Wanders around room full of people dressed far too nicely, clearly looking for someone, spots him and approaches*

curi: So why do you want to see all the Jews die?
RD: Pardon?
curi: So why do you want to see all the Jews die?
RD: I don't want that.
curi: Oh, sorry, I must have mixed that up. So you want all the Jews to live then?
RD: Yes, of course.
curi: So you'd support helping them live, right?
RD: Yes.
curi: Like giving them money and defensive weapons?
RD: There's no such thing as a defensive weapon!
curi: What if you came at me with a knife and I shot you?
RD: Are you threatening me?
curi: Is it 'cause I'm Jewish?
RD: What?
curi: Do you attack all Jewish people with knives?
RD: No, I don't attack anyone with knives.
curi: So your knives are purely defensive?
RD: No, they aren't weapons.
curi: So if I only shoot a gun at targets, would that not be a weapon?
RD: I guess you could classify it as sports equipment if it was only for target shooting.
curi: So can we send Israel some of those?
RD: No, I think they consider Palestinians 'targets' over there. *laughs to self*
curi: Yeah, I know. It's crazy. They just keep running at you, trying to get to the next cafeteria or pizzaria or whatever, and you have to take out each wave. If you miss even one you lose!
RD: Only because they're opressed. They live in the most horrible conditions.
curi: Oh totally, I wouldn't want to live somewhere with no cafes or pizza joints either. But then why do they blow them up?
RD: No, they don't blow up their own cafes, only the Jewish ones.

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was looking at Trinity, Bill Whittle's newest essay. he devotes quite a lot of space to why creating instead of just redistributing wealth exists. here's an explanation i like:

would you rather have a truck on the curb outside McDonalds full of hamberger components, or something to eat?

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they said "we're such the perfect couple" on TV. /me likes 'such the' constructions

and later

girl mad she thinks boy thinks she has big feet. boy: "no, big feet are good, they make you stable and hard to knock over" girl: *pushes boy over* boy: "yep, see, i have small feet"

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i thought i should blog something. rather than 5 hits yesterday i got 42. i don't know why but whatever, i'll try to give you *something* new to read, i guess.

In politics, a lot of discussion has gone to answer this question: Who should rule? Should it be the strongest? The smartest? The most popular? The divinely blessed? The oldest? And each generation should we pick again, or go be heredity?

That last question may have given it away. It implies that our leader should remain leader for his whole life! But we have term limits on presidents for a reason... See, the point is that 'Who should rule?' is entirely the wrong question. Any answer at all, doesn't matter who you pick, is a recipe for tyranny -- for one leader who's policies, bad or good, rule our lives. And yes, if you put a lot of energy into selection, maybe you can find a benevolent dictator who will have mostly good policies, and few bad ones. But that is still tyranny, and the hope of only having to live with "a few" bad policies by my King is just not that inspiring.

The answer to the question is to instead focus on: How can we set up our government so that bad leaders and policies get corrected? And that -- having a system open to criticism and change -- is the answer to tyranny. Picking the right tyrant in the first place is *not*. (unless it's curi)

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curi: haha, no comments after that last post, u suck
Elliot: -_-o
curi: seriously, ur readers must hate u or something
Elliot: uh huh. then why would they read me?
curi: morbid curiosity
Elliot: I suppose Jerry Springer is popular......
Elliot: erm, I mean I protest!
Elliot: yeah, that's it. i protest! your accusation is totally false. this is a highly intellectual blog that attracts only the elite.
curi: now you're an elitist?
Elliot: along with 2 million Diablo II h4x0rZ ;p
Elliot: I mean, No!
curi: [interrupting] good argument!
Elliot: fuck you
curi: [in best come hither voice] k
Elliot: *anime fall*
curi: do you think you'll win readers with injokes?
Elliot: no
curi: ...
Elliot: ahhhhh, this is what happens when you start an entry with nothing more than the worst joke in the piece in mind... *thinks*
curi: *waits*
Elliot: *thinks*
curi: *waits*
Elliot: *thinks*
curi: alright, i'm bored
Elliot: stop distracting me, I've almost got it
curi: no monkey non-sequiturs [editor: *hint hint, nudge nudge*]
Elliot: damn you
curi: you can't
Elliot: ?
curi: do you know how to curse someone?
Elliot: fuck you, biatch!
curi: *anime fall*
Elliot: curses don't exist, it's just an expression
curi: *curses Elliot*
Elliot: *sprouts a green party tatoo*
Elliot: hey!
curi: *giggles*
Elliot: you giggle like a girl
curi: sexist!
Elliot: girl!
curi: takes one to know one
Elliot: brilliant guy!
curi: sure am :-D
Elliot: you know I was just saying that because it would reflect well on me, right?
curi: no it doesn't, it implies you took 'takes one to know one' seriously
Elliot: you're the one who said it
curi: *shrug*
Elliot: reductio ad absurdum is a perfectly good form of argument
curi: uh huh, you've reduced your skillz to absurdity! congratz
Elliot: takes one to know one!
curi: -_-o
Elliot: *whispers to curi*
curi: *grin*
curi: *whispers back*
Elliot: We regret to announce that we are breaking here. The continuation will be posted presently, so check back soon.
curi: *stiffles giggles* Yeah, check back real soon, we're *bound* to post
curi: *falls over*
Elliot: dumbass, you ruined it
curi: whatever *pulls plug*

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
Imagine you are a child, interacting with your mother. Your mother is doing things to hurt you. And you say, "Mommy, stop hurting me! You can be my mommy without hurting me." And just imagine if your mother said "no".

Your claim, notably, is the same claim as TCS makes -- that it is possible and desirable to parent without hurting our children. And the mother's "no" is any position that contradicts the TCS claim.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
idiotarians are ppl who side with evil without having evil intentions. another way to put this is they have good motives but bad ideas. the whole point of this is that we do not attribute bad motives to those who disagree with us -- quite the contrary, we think most people who disagree with us have good motives. only a few are actually evil.

there is nothing analogous in how they treat us...

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
oh the irony!

skim this then think about this quote from it:

"This intolerance of ambiguity can lead people to cling to the familiar, to arrive at premature conclusions, and to impose simplistic cliches and stereotypes, the researchers advised."

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
hmm i keep going "it's late, i won't bother eating, i'll eat 2moro" and then i go "blah, it's morning, i don't like eating so early, i'll eat later"

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
it occurred to me that you guys deserve a post

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
Elliot: Go rocks!
curi: They're called stones.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
Isn't it great that we live in a society where a strip of paper-thin orange plastic can stop a car? And one where this claim doesn't evoke the question, "They make plastic as strong as steel now?"

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
One thing about people that are intimidating b/c of being "elite" somehow, is if they really are so elite, then all the stuff you may be worrying about, they should probably have solved already, so you don't actually need to worry about it. (or if they haven't solved it, and are so elite, well it's a hard issue, and they won't be expecting you to have a solution either.)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
Jack and Jill, who are partners in parenting, have sex sometimes, and are not convinced of the sanctity of monogamy. Jill wants sex more often; Jack doesn't. Jack suggests that Jill can seek out other people to have sex with if she wants more. Just like Jill often plays chess with others. Jack thinks this stance is sufficient and that should be the end of the issue.

But Jack is wrong. What he has missed is that Jill doesn't want more sex *with anyone*, she wants more sex with him. Whether this desire of Jill's is rational, is an open question I won't go into. But suffice it to say that Jill does have this preference. And the solution almost undoubtedly is not for Jill to want less sex to the level Jack currently wants. Rather it is probably more like: Jack will want a little more because he cares about Jill; Jill will want a little less because she cares about Jack; maybe or maybe not Jill will get some sex elsewhere; and Jack and Jill will looks for ways to make sex more interesting/enjoyable for Jack.

In theory, this can apply to chess too. But caring about who one plays chess with is not very common in our society. With sex, it is common to care about that.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
Sarah Fitz-Claridge has taken to deleting comments i post on takingchildrenseriously.com, including this one (see end of post for Henry's comment and my now-deleted reply). why? she says "no meta" and won't give any more details, like pointing out what bit of the comment is allegedly meta. also she says this rule applies to everyone. so maybe i'll point out various other posts with meta to her and see if she deletes them...

I was also put on moderation so comments I write on that site have to be approved to be posted. However, anonymous posts are not moderated. So, like, what the fuck? I logged out, have to type my sig myself now, and will have a harder time finding new comments to read without using the feature that tags new ones for me. Umm, great, she's wasted some of my time, for no reason. *sigh*

UPDATE: all anonymous posts now get moderated too. lovely. if you make a new account you can post with that unmoderated, though.

anyway, henry's comment and my now-deleted reply (judge for yourself how worthy of deletion my reply is, i suppose):

Common Preference is a flawed idea

I certainly like what TCS stands for. Quite literally, actually. I think Taking Children Seriously is a great name, and it really sums up nicely how I think we should treat children: simply take them seriously, just as we take adults seriously. I agree with TCS's most important themes, which I consider to be: don't coerce your kids (well, I think there are rare exceptions where it's good to coerce kids or adults), be creative at solving problems (generally work from the assumption that there is a solution), be skeptical about traditional education, use argument and advice rather than force, look for common decisions which make all involved happy. I attended a lecture once by Sarah Fitz-Claridge about TCS, and she has really good and, I believe, true things to say about how to deal with children. So I much appreciate her insights and analysis of the mistakes so many people make in dealing with children. Mostly boiling down to not taking them seriously and using coercion instead of reason.

But ironically, while I broadly agree with most of the TCS conclusions, it strikes me that the way it is typically philosophically defended is logically flawed on several issues. Some other time perhaps I will argue that TCS'ers are somewhat mistaken about the link between TCS and fallibilism. Here I wish to argue that the TCS notion of common preferences is thoroughly confused. This is evidenced by my analysis of two articles on this site showing that the following three different and incompatible definitions of "common preference" are used interchangeably:

1.A common policy that improves the position of everyone.
2.A common policy that everyone involved prefers to all alternatives considered.
3.A common policy that everyone is satisfied with.

Definitions 1 and 2 follow from the first sentence of the article above:

"Common preferences are policies that all parties after a successfully resolved disagreement prefer to their initial positions: everyone gets what they want."

It is clear that the first part of the sentence implies definition 1. The second part ("everyone gets what they want") seems to suggest definition 2, but this is less clear. However, the following sentences clearly does suggests definition 2:

"To put it simply, you keep making bold conjectures and subjecting them to criticism until you have a solution that everyone involved wholeheartedly prefers to any other candidate solutions any of you can think of at the time. (We call that a common preference, the preference you have in common.)".

This is from the article Introduction to Taking Children Seriously (TCS) . Another except from that article:

" 'Does it have to be a question of being right? Am I actually wrong for wanting to go to a Chinese restaurant, or is that just my taste?' countered Wendy. It is not the fact that you like Chinese food that is the problem, it is that you are not taking into account the fact that the smell of Chinese food makes me feel physically sick. Let me put it another way: if neither of us changes our mind and we don't resolve the disagreement, is it not the case that at least one of us is going to get hurt?"

Apparently the aim here is to find something that everyone can agree to without anybody feeling hurt. This implies definition 3. Now let's go through these definitions.

It's often easy to find a common policy in accordance with 1. Suppose we are all very hungry. I prefer to go to a Chinese restaurant, while my friend doesn't like Chinese food. But since she is very hungry, having a Chinese dinner still does improve her situation, since she'd rather eat something she doesn't like than stay hungry. So we eat Chinese. According to the definition this is a common preference. But of course this is a totally useless definition, because defined this way a common preference isn't a good result at all. Although both our positions have improved, going to a Greek restaurant, say, would have been a much better choice if my friend really loves Greek food and I like it only slightly less than Chinese food.

Definition 2 is obviously ludicrous in the context of how TCS'ers use the term. It's not ludicrous in the sense that such a common preference is impossible. Sometimes it does happen that, say, all in a group prefer to go to the same restaurant. That's a true common preference. But what makes this definition ludicrous is the fact that it is inconsistent with the TCS idea that one can find a common preference in general. This is obviously untrue, a case of wishful thinking. If I prefer Chinese food and my friend prefers Greek food we have different preferences not a common one. The fact that we may be mistaken about our own preferences is irrelevant, for it remains that there is no logical reason to assume people generally have the same preference.

Definition 3 is the most realistic definition. And in practice that indeed seems to be the TCS attitude. Try to find a policy that everyone is happy with, taking into account everybody's preferences. Though I slightly prefer Chinese food to Greek food, I will be quite happy if we go to the Greek restaurant, because I still like Greek food, and I want my dinner partner to be happy as well. So, the idea is good: if there is disagreement try to be rational, creative, loving, etc. and come up with a solution that everyone can live with. Normal people call this a compromise. TCS'ers call this a common preference. But that term is, of course, quite wrong. Agreeing to a solution other than your own preference, to make others happy, is not a preference, much less a common preference. This may sound horrible, but TCS'ers live in the same world as normal people, and therefore they too regularly make group decisions via compromise, voting or whatever. Their third way exists only in Alice in Wonderland. Unless you redefine the word preference to mean a preference for maximum utility for the group, in which case all would have the same preference if they can agree on all individual utilities for all alternatives. But that is not what the word preference normally means. But, again, the attitude is good. In their illogical search for a common preference I imagine TCS'ers will tend to find the best and wisest compromises, making everybody happy. And that's good.

A last comment. One thing I'm missing in TCS is the idea that everybody doesn't have to do the same thing. If you're in a group you don't always have to find a "common preference" (compromise). If the majority very much wants to do one thing and one person has a very different preference, that individual can simply choose not to join and let the rest of the group do what it wants. Or the group can split into two groups, or whatever. This may be much better in many cases than looking for a single "common preference" for the whole group.

by Henry Sturman on 2003/08/22 - 11:19 GMT | reply to this comment




Re: Common Preference is a flawed idea

Henry Sturman,

Definition 1 is, I agree, basically useless. Definition 3 is ambiguous, and hinges on what 'satisfied' means. I agree it could easily be interpreted to include compromises, which should not be deemed common preferences. so i'd throw definition 3 out too, and chastise any TCSers who write like it's true.

Before I continue, I want to caution you against paying attention to things like 'how most TCSers tend to use the term.' Most TCSers are usually fairly imprecise. And most of them don't get the all subtle or deep bits of TCS either. Even many of the articles on this site are not precise at all (I happen to think this policy is bad.) So anyway, I suggest instead of paying attention to the general attitude of TCSers towards a subject, you should look for the most precise and best couple things you can find, and analyse those.

Definition 2 is basically the TCS one. An alternative way to explain what a common preference is, is: a solution to a dispute in which no parties are coerced.

The point of a common preference is not that everyone orders lemon chicken (and thus has a preference for lemon chicken in common). Rather, it is more likely we will both prefer that you order lemon chicken while I order broccoli beef (or whatever it is we like). This is a common preference even though we order different things, because we each prefer that is how ordering should happen.

So in the case of one person splitting off from a group to do something else, that often is a common preference. the group may well prefer the person to split, while it continues. and the person may well prefer to split, while the group continues. (possible stumbling points would be if the group needed all its members for some reason, or the person didn't want to do his thing alone, in which case it'd take more creativity to solve).

or with Jack who wants greek food, and Jill who wants chinese, various common preferences could be:

- they each go eat alone (this is what people who aren't good friends might do)

-or-

- they each care about each other, and want to eat together, and also don't want the other to be happy, and thus agree to:
- get greek now (and maybe chinese next time). this could be a CP if Jill doesn't want to eat alone, and doesn't want to drag jack to chinese, and doesn't think ill of greek food, and basically prefers this to all rival plans.
- same as last, but with them getting chinese b/c they determine food choice is more important to jill than jack
- get takeout from one or both places
- stay home if they decide the food's not worth the hassle, and plan to each get the kind of food they like some time the other is busy.

BTW friends do this *all the time*. initially they want to go different places or otherwise do different things, and then they come to agree on one plan. it is this plan about what should happen (which includes what everyone involved should do, and takes into account everyone's preferences) that becomes common in a common preferences. (and before i sound like a socialist, i should emphasise that far and away the most prevalent kind of CP, that happens all the time, is for people to decide to both do their own thing, individually. like i'm working on my computer while someone else is downstairs, doing something else, and we're both fine with this state of affairs)

-- Elliot Temple
http://curi.blogspot.com/

by Elliot Temple on 2003/08/22 - 18:50 GMT | reply to this comment

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
On the last post, the following comments were made (and at the bottom I reply). I wanted to draw some extra attention to them. The discussion, if you like it, will continue in the comments on this post. BTW the italics on quoted stuff I've added now myself. anywayz:


Pat writes:
"and chastise any TCSers who write like it's true."

Meta.

"Before I continue, I want to caution you against paying attention to things like 'how most TCSers tend to use the term.' Most TCSers are usually fairly imprecise. And most of them don't get the all subtle or deep bits of TCS either. Even many of the articles on this site are not precise at all (I happen to think this policy is bad.) So anyway, I suggest instead of paying attention to the general attitude of TCSers towards a subject, you should look for the most precise and best couple things you can find, and analyse those."

An entire paragraph of meta.

The rest of your post has some good information, too bad you included the meta to prevent it from being removed.

Pat

I replied:
"and chastise any TCSers who write like it's true."

this is the object point that you should not write like it's true.

the paragraph addresses specific misconceptions the poster has, that are a legitimate philosophical topic. i could have written the same thing not about TCSers. using an example to make your point doesn't make something meta.

An anonymous poster added:
Pat,

Quit it. It's not "meta" you object to. It's discussing the TCS community. Stop lying about what it is Elliot is (in your view) doing wrong.

Technically "I think X" is meta (what the poster thinks is not what's at issue, what's true is). Meta is a stupid distinction, and not one that is actually enforced, except selectively, for the purpose of enforcing other rules while lying about what the rule is.

Pat replied:
"'and chastise any TCSers who write like it's true.'

this is the object point that you should not write like it's true."


No, I read the object point as being to chastise a person for their views. I suppose this is probably more precisely an incitement to post meta, rather than meta itself.

The second paragraph contains, as our Anonymous Coward points out, a discussion of the attributes of the TCS community, rather than limiting it to a criticism of the views themselves.

I think this is indicative of the problems your writing style Elliot. You have a tendency to include attacks on the holder of the view. As soon as you do this, any criticisms of the view itself is lost.


Now, here's my new reply to Pat:

"No, I read the object point as being to chastise a person for their views. I suppose this is probably more precisely an incitement to post meta, rather than meta itself."

If you prefer, the object point could be considered a claim that certain behavior is worthy of being chastised, which is a point about morality.

As for incitement to post meta. Well ponder this: for any set of imperfect rules, posting a perfect treatise on morality would be 'incitement to break the rules'.

Also, any writing that criticises/disagrees-with the rules is 'incitement' in the same way mine is (technically, the fact a rule is wrong, doesn't imply we should break it, so not all criticism of rules implies we should break them.....but that saving grace applies to my post too).

"The second paragraph contains, as our Anonymous Coward points out, a discussion of the attributes of the TCS community, rather than limiting it to a criticism of the views themselves."

No topic is always meta. That sort of discussion is meta-level relative to certain discussions, but can also be an object level discussion in its own right. And complex discussions where posters quote various different things and reply to each, can be looked at as multiple discussions about different things. So I'd say, among other discussions, we were having an object level one about TCS community issues. Which included points about morality and how to take views on certain matters.

"I think this is indicative of the problems your writing style Elliot. You have a tendency to include attacks on the holder of the view. As soon as you do this, any criticisms of the view itself is lost."

Notice the first sentence is ad hominem meta against me (attacks my style), the second sentence says I have a tendency to write ad hominem meta (that's more ad hominem meta, and also hypocritical, because Pat is busy saying we shouldn't write ad hominem meta). And the third sentences goes on to attack what Pat just did some more. (This paragraph, using the hidden premise that inconsistent views are false, is the object point that what Pat said is false.)

And as to the content, how is writing about the TCS community an attack on Henry Sturman? I did not reply to Henry by attacking his views. And, I have to say, I never argue with ad hominems. Ever. That's just a vile slander. (The vile slander comment is meta, not an argument, and thus not hypocritical.)

I want to point out that even a discussion like "Why are Jack and Jill such assholes" could be an object discussion between, say, Pat and I. Discussing that as a discussion in its own right, instead of as a reply to some stuff Jack and Jill wrote, would not be meta. It would be ad hominem (calls people assholes) but would not be the ad hominem argument fallacy, because it wouldn't be used as an argument. So I freely admit I say things against people, just I don't do it as a specious argument.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)
In comments, Pat wrote:
"just you" as in I am not aware of a general pattern of Sarah ignoring people as you claim she is you.

FWIW, I am aware of such a pattern, although the details are private/confidential.

"Are you trying to say [Sarah] views me as a single loony not worth talking to?"

I suppose that is a possible explanation of the behavior you are describing, although I can surmise others.

How about, your logic is so tight and irrefutable that the only what TCS in it's current form is going to survive is to ignore you and hope your reasoning doesn't see the light of day.

Well, if my logic is right, TCS should not want to remain in its current form. Though you've made it sound kinda dire. I don't see why changing the posting guidelines, especially the anti-meta stuff, would be so giant.

Or maybe, it is your style. If someone you knew was just plain harsh and mean and generally not any fun for you to converse with, and that person has repeatedly indicated that they were not interested in changing that aspect of themselves, how would you deal with such a person?


I would ignore the harshness, and interact anyway, if I had some reason to (such as the person being interesting, including uniquely wrong).

And to answer the implied comments about me: I am open to changing any part of my style if persuaded that I ought to. Umm, some people don't think I'm fun to talk to, but I know plenty do, and I don't know a reason to think I have some special status in that regard. I deny being mean. I think being harsh to ideas is sometimes called for.
Has anyone, including those that generally agree with you, ever complained about your presentation being abrasive? If so, did you indicate that you would seriously consider their suggestions or did you indicate that you thought you were and still are justified in such a presentation?

Can't I indicate both? I think I'm right and I'm open to being persuaded otherwise. True and mutable.
Or maybe it is something else, I don't know. I am purely speculating based on the information you have provided so far.

Since you have access to much more information about the interactions between you and Sarah than I, why do you think she is not engaging you?

I don't know why. Wish I did.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)
Take two abstract countries, and take it for granted each wants to destroy and dominate the other. They're at war. Ignore concerns like other pro-peace countries putting pressure for a truce. Now, for the goal of winning the war, why might these two countries take a truce? Well, they must think a temporary reprieve will help them more than their enemy. But if they both think that, one of them is wrong, and should have declined the truce and continued the war. And thus, with sufficiently good intelligence info, there would never be any truces.

Optionally, some people might think a truce is good for the world, because it will be better for the world if both countries have some time to prosper and create without constantly destroying stuff. But in any truce for that reason, one country is sacrificing its own war aims, and hurting its chance of winning, for the good of the world. And if that country thinks its winning the war is very important to the fate of the world, because its values are good, and the rival countries values are bad, then this kind of truce is incoherent. Sure, you get to prosper, but so too does the enemy grow stronger.

And countries are analogous to rival worldviews. Oh! And this only applies in the limit of taking your own side seriously.

Another point is, if it's say capitalists and commies, truces help capitalists, cause they have a better economy and stuff -- in peace they prosper a lot, and commies don't. Hence consistent commies should not accept peace. Nor should consistent Islamofacists. They'll only accept peace if they're confused enough to think they're the ones with the dynamic, productive society, and the capitalists are the ones on the verge of collapse, or something like that.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
I read an article on Sarah's TCS Site, and have comments:
Though many parents may be convinced of TCS in theory, they often want practical advice on how to resolve real problems; yet, as TCS parents come to learn, there is no one solution to any given problem just as there is no one kind of child or parent.

This is ambiguous. The passage could mean that because finding a common preference does not depend on solving one particular problem, but rather any of many, there are many ways to find common preferences. But the passage could also mean that single problems have multiple best answers -- that truth is pluralistic (I won't go into my objections to relativism here, but I will suggest that TCS follows Popper in opposing it, and so should TCS writing).

Additionally, in my interpretations lies a mistake! They use the hidden premise that the passage means something logically coherent. there's no particular reason to assume this. a better theory is that it's supposed to mean some combination of my two suggestions, and some other stuff as well, and that these meanings aren't all that consistent
Unlike most approaches to parenting, TCS does not and cannot offer formulas or methods for dealing with specific problems. This is because finding common preferences involves discovering what is most preferred by the very unique individuals involved.

The first sentence is misleading. Although there is a school of TCS thought concerned with constraints on how to parent, it is certainly not true that TCSers cannot or should not make tentative conjectures about specific things to do with either their children or most children. In other words, although TCS does not have a list of The Golden Methods that all parents must use, it is also not true that whenever TCS parents find methods of dealing with things they go "oh my god! a method! i better not use it!"

to get a sense of methods... washing the counters first and mopping the floor second is a method of cleaning. and rather a good one, cause of drips. now, TCS doesn't say all people must clean this way. maybe someone will figure out a better way later, or whatever. but a parent who uses this method is not barred from being TCS.

The second sentence is, to the extent the first is true, not the reason for that as it claims (note word 'because'). Additionally, finding common preferences does not require finding 'most preferred' things. Nor even is finding what people want a main part of CP finding. Generally, we have some idea of what we want, and CPs are found by a combination of figuring out how to get what we want and figuring out how to change what we want. Although sometimes we'll have what we want wrong, and find analysis in that direction helpful, it isn't part of the general method of CP finding.

Calling the individuals involved 'very unique' and the rest of the sentence gives the impression that the world works something like: there are different people, each unique, each special, each important. To live in harmony, we must find the natural, most perfect things for each to want and do. And by getting in touch with our inner selves like this can we solve most/all problems. This vision is wrong.
That's a hard truth for new TCS parents.

meta/specious.

and followed by more meta and then three scenarios. the scenarios are riddled with errors. but i can't be bothered to point them all out without a stronger conviction that anyone cares. if any readers really want to find some of the errors, and try themselves, and don't see them, feel free to ask questions in comments. preferably fairly specific ones.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
thought: Doesn't wanting to live forever violate the notion that we should be concerned with what theories and values triumph rather than who triumphs? I mean, we think our values and theories are the right ones, fine, but we also know they aren't perfect, and will have to be changed in the future. And who's to say we'll be the best ones to adapt to the values of the future? Even today all of us find entrenched theories we aren't sure how to fix. And the more time passes, the more the world will change, and the more we will find that not just the denotation of our worldview needs changing, but even the constraints and meta-knowledge in it must also be changed. As a striking example of the difficulty of doing that, just look at how much control we have over our emotions.

counter: As the world improves this much, well why the fuck can't we stick around? It's not like there isn't gonna be plenty of housing, food, stuff. Even if we were basically totally useless, we could subsist on negligible charity (in reality, creative people, even with hangups, aren't useless). And also, the above is kinda revolutionary. As if we should just get rid of imperfect worldviews and replace them with more-perfect new ones. (even replace here implies we have to make room for the new ones, ie limited space, which isn't right). but it isn't going to be like that, with an old generation of useless people and a new generation of useful people. the distinctions will be much more blurred. ok, now i concede there will be people who feel they can't keep up, and want to die. fine. but the people who do have the conviction that they want to live forever ... well in wanting to live forever they aren't giving up, rather they press on and try every day. and that itself is enough.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (4)
so i was watching Dr Phil (*puke*), and he said something like "i've been doing this 30 years, and i've never run into a kid where finding the right lever to control his behavior didn't work". and what's worse is I believe him. *shudder* (lever as in something child cares about to use to blackmail/manipulate with punishment and/or reward)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
There is less agreement about what uncommon words mean than about common ones. This is part of why pretty, arcane-word-riddled writing tends to be more confusing. Also note this effect: words sometimes become less common because people don't agree on their use.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
if you screw a palestinian, you risk the screw killing a jew as shrapnel later

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)
one thing about questions is: if the person has all this knowledge you don't (ie what you're trying to ask about) they're prolly good at figuring out the point of questions even if the questions are badly flawed

this applies to like generally wise people, who are smart at lozza stuff, not one-sphere-wonders.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
What is sarah on?

"The way to create new knowledge is to resolve the disagreement by finding a proposal that each person prefers ' a common preference." (source)

CPs are for not hurting each other. they aren't the method by which we create knowledge. (new knowledge? wtf does that mean?) we create knowledge via conjectures and refutations. as written, it sounds like "we create new knowledge by agreeing on stuff". (finding a proposal each person prefers = finding a single proposal about what everyone does that everyone agrees-on/consents-to)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
"Formal education is so flawed a blind man picking scrabble pieces in the dark could write a true argument against it." -- curi

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
dan posts a nice point about radio stations giving gifts on 9/11. namely that if WTC was a symbol of capitalism, we shouldn't give stuff away in its memory.

UPDATE: Gil commented on Dan's blog that giving stuff away is promotion and *makes money* or they wouldn't be doing it. He's right.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
So my friend and I go to the park a bit after midnight and play frisbee for a bit, but it's kinda too dark, so we get tired of it. But then some cops come and shine a really bright light on us (the park was closed, but the gate was open, so *shrug*). So my friend is like, "Hey, we have light now, lets play frisbee more!" I think that's one of the most brilliant ideas I've ever heard. So we did play more frisbee....for about 30 seconds. Then the cops used a loudspeaker to tell us to leave. So then we start leaving, and the cops drive over to us and want to ask us for ID and stuff. Then one asks why we started playing frisbee in the light. So we told them because we could see the frisbee! Then they looked at us funny. Cops are amusing.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
ok so me and toad would go to the park to play frisbee. and come from a certain side, cause that's where the water fountain is. and man, water rocks when you just biked a few miles and ur about to play frisbee, and you know the bottles of water you carried will run out and you'll have to make trips back to the water fountain, and yeah....

ok, but anyway, when ur both hella thirsty, it takes a while to drink enough water. and also, it's good to like drink a bunch, wait a few seconds, and drink more. so what you do is one person drinks some, then takes a break, and you take multiple turns on one visit. ok, still so far, so good.

now, one day we made a discovery. there's *two* water fountains! joy of joys! when we arrive there's like a closer one. now we can drink water sooner! w00t!

but not only that, we do it like this: first person drinks from first water fountain while other waits. then bikes to the second water fountain while second person drinks from first fountain. then second person follows and arrives at the second fountain as the first person is finishing up there. and, boom, less waiting, more drinking, and some waiting becomes biking to the next fountain, which is like on the way. w00t! we're all efficient.

but the thing is. say i wasn't with toad. someone else. pretty much anyone else. if they're fairly good, we'll probably alternate drinking in a single visit instead of just waiting for the other to completely finish. but if i tried to bike off to the second fountain? they'd be like "hey, why are you ditching me?" and I'd be like "d00d, I'm going to the other fountain" and they'd be like "Why? There's water right here!" and I'd be like "umm, yeah, but you're using it" and they'd be like "umm, so are you coming back after? isn't that kinda far to go? just wait!" and I'd be like "no, look, you follow me after you're done drinking here, and it's more efficient" and they'll be like "umm, this is sure a lot of work for such a tiny improvement. almost seems *inefficient* to me!" and I'll just get bored and wander off to the next fountain, and yeah......

ok, so why does it matter that the organisational costs would be way higher with most people? and why does it matter that most people would resist such a small improvement? isn't it negligible?

Well, the thing is, the way we improve stuff is piecemeal. Bit by bit. We don't improve our lives by making one giant step forward every couple months. No no. We inch forward day by day. It's small, gradual improvement over time that gets somewhere. Improvement is not negligible. It's improvement. It's better. resisting small improvements is exactly the wrong thing to do.

and there's more. having a worldview where the cost of implementing a small improvement is high, is a very very bad thing. having one where the cost is small, is a very very good thing. if someone says "eh, we shouldn't bother with that, cause it's too much work for the benefit," even if they're right, well why's it so damn much work to *improve* things? only cause people have perverse WVs in the first place!

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
IMAO is back and posting again. Including this gem of an In My World entry.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
I heard about this philosophy called Dynamic Living. It sure sounds better than not moving...

Part of it is supposed to be about balancing the different parts of your life. I figure to work towards that, I'll try to watch anime as much as I sleep.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
This new security system called Watchdog is super sweet. it says dogs have 50,000 times better smelling and 20,000 times better hearing than people, and better night vision, and so they're pretty good at noticing intruders and stuff. and it uses some computer algorithm to moniter dogs for security purposes. coolness.

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i thought i should post. then i wondered what. i thought maybe a rant would be good. i haven't really been reading enough blogs lately to post about those. a rant about what? well, prolly whatever pisses me off a lot would work well. so lessee how this goes.

the idea that sex should be taboo for young people pisses me off. there's just no god damn reason young people cannot or should not learn about sex. in fact, there's the opposite: lots of good reasons they should. sex is important to our culture, so everyone will want to learn a fair bit about it, and many people will want extensive knowledge. why try to make people wait years and years and years to start learning? it's stupid. and the result is people do learn younger, but get embarrassed about it, and learn from worse sources than they might otherwise. like, my god, i hear some girls really think you can't get pregnant your first time. and many people worry masturbation is unhealthy or immoral. *sigh*

the anti-cussing taboos are annoying too. i don't see what the big fucking deal is. curse words are just words. sheesh.

anti-racists piss me off too. i just don't care about race. fuck it. whatever. they, on the other hand, paint all sorts of stuff on racial lines. isn't that racism? sure seems like it to me. god, some of them are so "anti"-racist they ban white people from their seminars. no joke. or, my god, support affirmative action (which means, however you slice it, discriminating college admissions on the basis of race).

there's a cool southpark ep where the southpark flag is 4 white ppl hanging a nigger (*ahem* black d00d). (btw did u notice the black guy on the show is named Token? he's such a token effort at racial balance that it's funny) anyway, the anti-racists wanna change the flag. and some ppl say the flag is tradition. the kids have to debate the issue. stan and kyle take the side of keeping it the same and get called racists a lot. anyway, they give their debate speech, and it goes something like "killing has been around forever. it's natural. animals kill each other all the time. we don't see what the big deal is with depicting killing on the flag." and the anti-racists are like "but it's white people killing a black guy" and the kids are like "OHHHHHH!". they never noticed. i hate anti-racists :) btw in the ep they fixed the flag by making it a white guy, and black guy, a yellow guy, and a red (mebbe, not sure) guy hanging a black guy. heh heh

speaking of animals, they're really ridiculous. they don't even speak English. what kind of dipshit can't speak english? heheh

umm, good enuf, i spose. *wanders off*

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
oh wait, i thought of something, i thought of something! yay me!

at low-precision the NAP and non-coercion are not misleading. they are right-leading. it's generally a good idea not to attack people outside self defense, and generally not a good idea to coerce your children. duh. they hold at low precision easy.

what about at high precision? well, at high precision I think they're true (well non-coercion moreso, the NAP has to be reworded and stuff). high precision defense of the truth of the statements, involves various points that one might think misleading, and involves so many catches and subtle little stuff, that one might wonder how they can be useful things to say. well, i deny that misleading is a meanful criticism at high-precision. i think at high precision the claim "how can the truth be misleading?" holds. am not purporting to be saying more than the truth; am not purporting to lead ya anywhere.

btw it's possible to use truisms misleadingly, if you answer a question with a truism about one side of the issue and scorn the other. but that misleadingness is not inherent in the truism.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
everyone organises their room. just some people use different organisational schemes. it's a travesty that one particular type of scheme (empty floor, stuff in rows where it's nice to look at and hard to use, not much dust, etc) has a monopoly on being called organised or orderly. esp when it's not even all that great a setup. it's pretty impractical.

on the flipside of the coin, a lot of children could have better-organised rooms, and would enjoy it that way. but the solution isn't to go in there and move stuff around (mess it up even more), it's to not instill cleaning hangups in your kids.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)
In armies, it used to be that almost the entire army was fighters, with only a few support people like dedicated cooks, squires, medics, hunters or whores. Soldiers could cook and hunt themselves, and there barely were any medics. And only a few people got squires. I suppose horse troops got some servants to take care of horses and stuff, and leaders got some, but the vast majority of footmen had like no support. Oh I forgot supply lines, which are support. But still a small number of people compared to the army.

Over the years, this has changed. A smaller and smaller proportion of armies does the fighting, and a larger and larger proportion does support work. Now we have supply lines, medics, coordinator people in headquarters with radios (or maybe satellite communicators or whatever), trainers (used to be the trainers were all fighters too), advisors, mechanics, translators, etc etc etc

Anyway, the point is combat troops down, support troops up, and this makes the combat troops way more effective, makes them take lower casualty rates, and works better.

OK, this morning I was lying in bed, thinking about stuff, fairly randomly, and it occurred to me that I have a relatively (very) high amount of time into structure, support, and organisational stuff of my WV, and (relatively) low amount into doing actual content. And I believe this is a really, really good thing.

A few random examples, besides time relaxing/thinking, are that I've spent way more time reading war3 strategy and watching replays than playing the game. Spent more time reading Magic strategy than playing magic. spend very high amounts of time planning how to make my character/party in computer games. and if the game is dull, i'll quit and not consider it time wasted. I even start over if I mess up, often, to get it right. not because I think I can't win with an imperfect party (most games are designed so someone not very good can win eventually, and someone really good could win with a large handicap). but because it's important to test my conjectures of what the right party is by actually using it. and it's boring to play with a refuted party. (though if you get too far, re-doing stuff too often is boring, so it can be better to press on, for the sake of seeing the later parts of the game, which can be cool).

another example is i'll often spend a bunch of time deciding what to do, instead of doing something. other people might say, "you have three good-enough ideas, roll some dice and do one". and if I took their approach, a while later I'd have done something ok, or maybe even the right thing for a while. my way, what'll I have to show for my time? well, I'll have learned about how to decided what to do, and every time in the future i'll be better able to decide. there's less point doing an activity before you have a conjecture about which to do to test. and the activity will be richer when it has the two-fold meaning of the activity, and of testing the conjecture about what to do.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
my fucking god. lookat this:

"Which, I finally have to inform you, I've decided not to do. I'm sick of being your whipping-boy, the lightning conductor for all your self-disgust. It's like having a million teenage children, all sulking and slamming their bedroom doors, and Cherie and I have had enough. It's Gordon's turn. Good luck to him." (source)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
so i've been reading A Song of Ice and Fire, which is totally TEH r0xx0r. but anyhow, I've got a morality question:

Arya is a highborn girl; an important person. And not just any highborn girl, but one of the most important half dozen houses in the realm. She ends up captured by enemies, but is dirty enough to be mistaken for a boy. Even cleaned, she isn't recognised. She's put to work cleaning on the cleaning staff at a castle, basically slave labor until the war is over (and after, the ones who really are lowborn won't have anywhere to go or anyway to leave, so they'll stay, and work, to keep getting fed).

After a while a hundred prisoner's from Arya's brother's army (her father died) come to the castle dungeons, and the enemy army leaves, except for maybe a hundred guards and some hired mercenaries. Arya manages to free the prisoners who take over the castle (the hired people all change sides). However, Arya doesn't trust anyone, so she doesn't tell them who she is, and keeps doing work. One day it is announced her brother's bannermen will soon leave, and she discovers she would remain and the hired mercenaries would rule the castle. They are *nasty* people. Really fucking nasty. Arya does *not* want to be in their power. So she decides to escape. She steals some horses and swords (two friends come with her) and food. The stealing seems perfectly moral to me. But anyway, after that, there's one thing standing between her and escape: the man at the gate. (She goes to a small gate with only one guard.) Arya kills him. One of her brother's soldiers, who did no wrong. Was this murder wrong?

I do have my own answer, but I won't give it until enough people comment. I do have one piece of advice though: I would suggest considering morality to be that which helps promote human flourishing, whether it's true or not in the limit, won't help at all here. Killing the guard is good for Arya's flourishing and bad for the guard's flourishing. Ho hum.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
wow a whole post, go me!

curi42 (6:42:25 PM): hmm i think there is an attitude where people make some choices, in effect about what values to have and about vast swathes of future choices. (and make most of these choices based on what they're supposed to do, etc)
curi42 (6:42:58 PM): then sort of coast along, being little more than a robot enacting these pre-decided things, and making trivial choices (what should i eat today?)
curi42 (6:43:13 PM): ok, technically, they still keep making big choices all the time, but it's so ingrained to make them one way, they never even notice
curi42 (6:43:42 PM): 2 points: A) telling them they must stop and think, could be rather disturbing
curi42 (6:44:04 PM): B) our view, where we are constantly making choices, could be rather foreign and not understandable
curi42 (6:44:05 PM): like
curi42 (6:44:50 PM): in relationships, ppl seem to think 'ok, i'm jack's gf now, so i'll do that' and the only real choices are 'keep going' and 'quit'. as long as it's keep-going mode they just coast coast coast.
curi42 (6:45:09 PM): whereas, a better view is, every day.....every hour, we must keep deciding what we want to do next, and next, and next. the future isn't set
curi42 (6:45:24 PM): under the second view, multiple friends becomes a non-issue
curi42 (6:45:51 PM): that sound good? should i change much b4 posting?
curi42 (6:46:17 PM): [mwahahaha, you can't read what I said here]
Other_Person (6:48:06 PM): seems ok, though it is perhaps too harsh a judgement on people
curi42 (6:48:25 PM): on ppl in general?
Other_Person (6:48:31 PM): yes
curi42 (6:48:39 PM): they don't do it WRT all things
Other_Person (6:49:00 PM): being conservative is a good policy in general, since the world is very complex and innovation is risky
Other_Person (6:49:24 PM): coasting = pejorative word for 'being conservative'
curi42 (6:49:43 PM): no
curi42 (6:49:53 PM): it's a perjorative word for not noticing ur making choices
curi42 (6:49:59 PM): being conservative *on purpose* is one thing
Other_Person (6:52:28 PM): ok
Other_Person (6:52:32 PM): well, say that too
curi42 (6:52:37 PM): k

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (9)
IMAO has the bestest set of readers ever. I wish mine were as cool as his. Look at this poll he ran:

What is the best way to defeat terrorism?
By living our lives as normal - 6 votes (1%)
By attacking the root causes that breeds terrorism - 35 votes (6%)
By being more engaged in the world and better respecting the opinions of other countries - 12 votes (2%)
Kill all terrorists; if people complain about our harsh tactics, kill them too - 535 votes (91%)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
i don't usually bother linking IMAO posts, because basically they are all so good i figure you must already read them all. and it'd get boring to be like "here's an IMAO post, read it" and then like "here's another" and then like "look, IMAO posted again." i mean i already tried that with virtue pure and eh it got boring, and IMAO posts waaaaaaaay more often too.

however, fuck it. here's an IMAO post to read

and read this one too

and look, another one. (here's part 2 of that one)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
so i was just reading from The Myth of the Framework (by Karl Popper), and what struck me is that Popper will go on for pages and pages to make some point that seems to me to be very simple. he is careful to answer all sorts of objections someone might have, that I would assume my reader will not have, because the objections are stupid. he repeats himself over and over and over. also, he repeats himself, which is really annoying. i wish he wouldn't repeat himself so much. (actually a real objection is i didn't encounter a single joke yet) *ahem* anywayz,

so he goes on for pages about what seems to me a sentence or two of content. so it's kinda dull to read cause it's all like "duh, i've been taking that practically for granted long as i remember".

ok, but anyway, here's the point. i happen to know Popper's work is in large part not understood or accepted. get it?

to put it more plainly: imagine you read the works of some scientist from the 1500's or some similarly old work, and he was going "wow, i have this new idea, maybe the world is like a sphere" or maybe you read "i posit that really big stuff attracts other stuff with a pull. i'll call this gravity." now imagine that the author of this book you were reading was a heretic, and his ideas were generally rejected. dear god, how you would scream, and pull out your hair, and grind your teeth into dust.

(i'm aware if people had the wrong idea of *physics* that might not be so terrible to live with (depends on details), but my example was just meant to illustrate the concept. the subjects Popper wrote on had to do with how to have a discussion, and how to argue, and basic epistemology and morality. if people do *that* wrong, WRT to the things Popper speaks of, it *is* extremely frustrating and bad and stuff.)

update:

oh yeah and i forgot to mention: so even if i learned to write more like Popper: to be more thorough and make everything obvious, and even if i found the patience to be much less telegraphed, well even then would it be wise to expect to be understood or liked much? no.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)
i've read most of chapters 2 and 3 of The Myth of the Framework by Karl Popper. a few things that struck me are:

- Popper's writing is extremely clear and simple. and if you open up to practically any page, and start reading in the middle of a paragraph, what he's saying will still make sense.

- Popper uses a lot of examples from history. esp old philosophers.

- Popper puts a lot of effort into refuting common misconceptions, often repetitively

the thesis of the book is basically about this:

the myth of the framework, in one sentence says "A rational and fruitful discussion is impossible unless the participants share a common framework of basic assumptions or, at least, unless they have agreed on such a framework for the purpose of the discussion." this is the myth popper criticises in the book.

here's another example of the myth: "Those who believe this, and those who do not, have no common ground of discussion, but in view of their opinions must of necessity scorn each other." - Plato


UPDATE:

in the author's note at the start, it says the essays in the book were mostly collected from various lectures to non-specialist audiences. that's why they repeat lots of Popper's main philosophical ideas so often.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
oh my god. read this now. seriously. it's a short personal story about encountering jew hatred.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
if ur wondering whether kolya and his anti-TCS followers have a point, you might take note of how bonkers some of their actual positions are. like look at this by leonor. (no permalinks, but the date is: 10/26/2003 09:08:49 AM)

notice how she says "I'd argue that fiction [can't] actually help people form any good values about the real world, as it consists of fake information, of lies. I don't believe metaphors and allegories are a good way to explain the world, they are used to trick people." and also doesn't think ppl learn about "the real world" from video games.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)
"Coercion is the state of two or more personality strands being expressed in different options of a single choice so that one cannot see a way to choose without forsaking some part of his personality."

Coercion --> Immorality
personality strands --> intentions
personality --> set of intentions

"Immorality is the state of two or more intentions being expressed in different options of a single choice so that one cannot see a way to choose without forsaking some part of his set of intentions."

Discuss.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (12)
Bob owes Joe $5,000. one day they're walking down the street, and both have lots of cash on them. they get mugged. before the robbers take their money, Bob asks "can you at least let me pay joe here back the 5 grand i owe him first, before you rob us?"

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)

fucking biased media

source

it's a news article by Reuters. the headline is "Hamas Sets Truce Terms, Israel Demands Crackdown"

but what does that mean?

well by truce they mean, "The Islamic group Hamas ruled out on Monday halting militancy in a three-year-old Palestinian revolt but said it could limit attacks to Israeli soldiers and settlers if the Jewish state stopped harming Palestinian civilians."

in plain English, Hamas offers to only attack soldiers and certain civilians especially the more vulnerable ones who live on settlements, but not all civilians. and this is only if Israel agrees not to shoot at terrorists who use human shields (among other things). that's a "truce" offer.

and by crackdown they mean, "Israel insists on an anti-militant crackdown by the Palestinian Authority as required by the road map, a move rejected by Palestinian officials as a recipe for civil war."

in plain English, Israel insists that the PA keep its word. that's a "crackdown".


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

What's a WMD?

a friend went to a college halloween party, with a costume that was a shirt that said "WMD" on it. was he mobbed by the foaming-at-the-mouth liberals which inhabit all college campuses? was he studiously ignored because the liberals were in the habit of turning a blind eye to WMD?

nope! rather, he was asked what WMD are. people didn't know. and I thought *I* didn't read much news. ah, the warped perspective of a blogger...

this is especially notable after reading this piece on The World. the piece suggests one of the evils that the Nazis did was force many people to learn about war and death and killing, when they would rather have just lived their lives. and so too is it wrong of the terrorists to make us learn about the morality of terrorism. who the hell wants to take a stance on whether we should bomb a terrorist who's in the same building as a baby?

well, apparently plenty of people still haven't taken such stances. I admit probably some of them ought to learn about this stuff, because these issues really are important today, no matter how much we'd like them not to be. but on the other hand, it's nice to hear that not everyone worries about this stuff; some people still get to go on with their lives as usual.

oh, and speaking of learning about these issues. i'd like to express my appreciation of all the US soldiers in Iraq, who deal with them so not all of us have to (or have to much less).


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Battle Cry

A Little Boy Lost
by William Blake

'Nought loves another as itself,
   Nor venerates another so,
Nor is it possible to thought
   A greater than itself to know.

'And, father, how can I love you
   Or any of my brothers more?
I love you like the little bird
   That picks up crumbs around the door.'

The Priest sat by and heard the child;
   In trembling zeal he seized his hair,
He led him by his little coat,
   And all admired his priestly care.

And standing on the altar high,
   'Lo, what a fiend is here!' said he:
'One who sets reason up for judge
   Of our most holy mystery.'

The weeping child could not be heard,
   The weeping parents wept in vain:
They stripped him to his little shirt,
   And bound him in an iron chain,

And burned him in a holy place
   Where many had been burned before;
The weeping parents wept in vain.
   Are such things done on Albion's shore?

This is my favorite poem, and I've added it to my sidebar. But what do you think of it? What does the poem mean? Is it right? Why is it important? Is it important? Please discuss.


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Government Is Good (Despite What Some Libertarians Say)

One Perspective On Government

Some libertarians oppose governments on the principle that they are organised gangs of thugs. They consider the defining characteristic of governments to be that governments claim the right to initiate force ... and people listen (whereas most thieves don't pretend to be legitimate and aren't considered as such). They point out that they never agreed to pay taxes, and don't want to, and don't like most of the stuff that taxes pay for, and consider that conclusive.

Some of these libertarians support the war on terrorism. They realise that terrorism is a great threat, and to wish see it fought against. Terrorism is so bad that anyone at all fighting it is good. I suppose they must see the matter as a powerful pickpocket guild beating up a renegade gang of murderers. A "lesser of two evils" situation.

(Some libertarians would oppose the war on terror, either because they figure "If we leave them alone, they'll leave us alone, and nevermind Israel," or "No collateral damage is ever acceptable, under any circumstances, for any purpose, even if it is only caused because the enemy is using human shields." But I won't go into how silly I think those approaches are right now.)

Some of these libertarians, if given the option, would be happy to see the US government disappear tomorrow. The institution, the knowledge of how to run it, the taxes, the laws, etc... This is absurd, notably, even within the pickpocket metaphor, as it means foregoing protection.

But there's more than that; there are good reasons to like our government and support it besides self-defense. Our government does various things, some important. Now, the libertarians will insist that all these functions could, in theory, be done by private companies. Well, yes, I agree. But so what? I don't see these companies. They don't exist (yet).

It's not as if an anarcho-capitalist society (in short: free market capitalism with all government functions replaced by private companies and taxes replaced by user fees for people who want the services) would simply come into being without our government. Anarcho-capitalism is not the natural state of affairs that once existed until it was destroyed when a group of evil thugs invented government and took over. It is, rather, a very advanced notion that requires lots of knowledge to implement. This knowledge must be created gradually, through the improvement of existing institutions. Government functions must not disappear overnight, but instead slowly be replaced by private institutions that function better. We need good traditions, not a revolution.

Why Government Is Good

Governments create consent. That's the reason in a nutshell, but of course it needs an explanation.

Let's imagine a group of people living somewhere with no government, and little knowledge. Some will be bad, and will want to dominate over the others. So most people will form mutual defense pacts. And somewhere not too far off, some bad person will have conquered an empire, and formed an army, and thus our people will want to form one big defensive pact, instead of lots of scattered ones, so that they can fend off the entire army if need be. So they will form institutions to cooperate in regional defense. When an invasion looms, there may be disagreements about how many soldiers are needed to fight it off, and who must become a soldier, and where their equipment will come from. Thus, a system to resolve these issues is needed.

And these people will also set up institutions for small-scale defense against criminals. And they will need some system of deciding who is and is not a criminal. The answer to this is not self-evident despite what some libertarians seem to think. There will be disagreements, and thus some way to resolve them will be needed.

One day, Joe's crop goes bad. He asks others for help. They form some food-sharing institutions. They create rules to govern these. The people all value security, and thus put in provisions to help anyone who does not have enough.

One day they invent medicine. They realise that if they only pay the doctor when they are sick, he will starve in the mean time. And also that he will have no motivation to help prevent people from becoming sick. So everyone pays a low price all the time, and the doctor helps whoever needs help at recovery and prevention both. Some people disagree about who the doctor should be helping, saying he favours his friends, and they create institutions to resolve disputes of that nature.

What will all these institutions look like? Well, at first they will be very crude. The defensive agreement might simply state that all able-bodied men must fight when there is a war, or be put to death. The food agreement might allow anyone who is starving to take food from his neighbor, "as long as he made a genuine effort to create his own food." And the system of resolving disputes might be to ask the town elder.

And, over time, people will come up with better ideas. And after a while, and a lot of progress, something like our current government and courts might form.

If this society (that we've imagined) progresses to use a completely voluntary army, that will be an amazing advance. And if it has elected leaders who consent to voluntarily step down when their term ends, that will be an amazing advance. And if criminals are presumed innocent until evidence is presented against them, that will be an amazing advance. And if there are property rights defended by law, and a system of consensual trade, that will be an amazing advance.

When we know how to do better than using government for these things, we will. But we do not. The path to a better society is not to rail against our government, but rather to acknowledge it for what it is: an imperfect, evolving tradition and a great force for good.


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (31)

split post

curi looks about 15, skinny, goes barefoot with shorts and a t-shirt in any weather, and moves unnaturally fast. He's standing in front of a bridge over a small, calm river. A long line of people are crossing in silence.

curi: "Salutations! Welcome to my domain!"
Elliot (no description ;p): hmpf
curi: *Waves at people* "What?"
Elliot: They're so quiet.
curi: Hah! Watch this.
curi: *Jumps up and down shouting* Hey everyone! Speak or I'll fire this machine gun *holds up machinegun* into the crowd!
crowd: *stops walking, cowers and cringes*
two bold souls: *shouting* Please don't shoot.
Elliot: ...
curi: see, they talked
Elliot: ...
curi: I'll give you sushi to cheer up.
Elliot: ...
crowd: *trudges on again*
curi: *rolls eyes* Fine, fuck you.
Elliot: no
curi: Now introducing...
curi: *pauses*
curi: Virtue Pure!
Virtue Pure (an adult, dressed classy, and always illuminated by a personal beam of light from the heavens that follows him): Hi everyone. I'm so happy to be here.
Elliot: Why?
Virtue Pure: It's really an honor to be invited. I'm ecstatic just to be in your presence, Elliot. You're brilliant, ya know?
Elliot: You mean bored.
Virtue Pure: No I don't.
Elliot: Are you contradicting me? I thought I was the brilliant one. ;p
Virtue Pure: I meant no offense. I'll try to help you with your boredom.
Elliot: ...
Virtue Pure: Well, give me a moment to think.
curi: you people suck. well at least if I add more it'll make a good orgy...
Elliot: Worst. Pun. Ever.
curi: whatever. now introducing: Isyn Kaitsol.

Isyn Kaitsol is 18, tall, and fairly strong. He wears chainmail under a black robe, and a longsword on his belt. He is a priest of Amilise Siliv, and hopes to one day master arcane magiks as well. He has a bit of an evil problem.

Isyn: Hi! Hi! Glad to be here. Now, you may be thinking, "I know him. He worships an evil Goddess, and would ritually sacrifice children to gain ancient magiks." But I wanted to assure you that Amilise is very beautiful.
Elliot: Oh. Great. I'll sleep easy then.
curi: Hey, stop using sarcasm, that's part of my domain.
Elliot: yeah, sure...
Isyn: Hey, I resent this suspicion. I wasn't even the one who killed Myrdin.
curi: Speaking of killing Myrdin, here's Caeli (also known as Lia)!

Caeli approaches in a polished, steel breastplate with gold inlays, with a longsword on her belt. She stands up straight and seems tall despite being 5'7". Confidence and determination show in her blue eyes. She seems to radiate light, and her pale gold hair flies freely behind her in the light wind. But as she approaches Isyn, the light around her dims and her hair darkens and becomes mixed with brown.

Caeli: *strides up to stand beside Isyn* Myrdin was a traitor that deserved to die. He would have killed us in our sleep if I had not stopped him.
Isyn: *intones* Death comes for us all.
curi: riiiiiiight, *ahem*, so, let's not bring *that* incident up. who wants icecream?
Elliot: not me
Virtue Pure: icecream sounds nice

Tirin Veil, 14, small, quick, and wearing leather armor and a white cape comes running up carrying staff with a sword on his belt. He is an air mage, but unskilled in that art. However, he is skilled with sword and staff.

Tirin: Hi, I thought there just wasn't enough of a crowd, so I'd join in. But fear not, I'm sure I won't get in the way or be a nuisance. In fact, I'll even sing for you. *starts singing Lucky by Britney Spears* "Early morning, she wakes up..."
curi: ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, turn him off, turn him off! i thought i didn't invite him!
Elliot: who made you boss?
curi: i did.
Elliot: oh....
Isyn: *slips up next to curi and nudges him* "So tell me about this becoming boss thing. what's the trick to it?"
Tirin: *singing* She's so lucky, she's a star. But she cry, cry, cries in her lonely heart...
curi: well, first you have to not suck. then not be evil. then be as cool as me. and *then*, maybe learn how to alter reality at will.
Isyn: You can alter reality at will?
curi: *snaps fingers*

A hail of peeled bananas rains down on Virtue Pure.

Isyn: *drools*
curi: You like bananas that much? I'll make you some.
Isyn: Fool.
Tirin: *sings* "Lost in an image, in a dream. But there's no one there to wake her up..."
Elliot: ya know, so many people is really a mess. what were you thinking? you should introduce new characters more slowly. and only when you have some idea for what they might do that'll be entertaining or interesting.
curi: whatever.
Virtue Pure: This is important. What about the poor readers who have to endure this mess? Don't you care about them? Wouldn't the moral thing to do be to try and make a good skit, with some content or at least jokes?
curi: this is easier
Virtue Pure: The path of ease and the path of virtue sometimes go in different directions.
curi: yeah, that's why i picked one....
Caeli: You departed from the path of virtue intentionally? What kind of foul demon are you? *draws sword, which has a slight blue-white radiance* Draw your sword and meet your maker!
curi: you're on, bitch. *draws sword out of nowhere* (curi didn't have a sword until just now)
Isyn: Save his heart, I think I could use it in a ritual.
Tirin: *sings* "Best actress, and the winner is…Lucky!" "I'm Roger Johnson for Pop News standing...
Elliot: argh! stop fighting! can we please have a serious discussion?
curi: hey, no sweat, I can multi-task. *lunges at Caeli*
Caeli: *deflects curi's blow easily and tries to counter*
curi: *blinks out before Caeli's blow cuts him, and appears behind her*
Isyn: What dark sorcery is this? *draws sword and mumbles a prayer*

The sky turns dark, and rain begins to fall. Thunder booms and lightning strikes. Strong winds blow away everyone in the crowd except the main characters (did you even remember the crowd? heh), and the river turns into turbulent rapids. The beam of light from the heavens on Virtue Pure goes out, and Caeli's aura of light flickers with black. Isyn's muscles bulge, and his sword burns with a red-black fire.

curi: hah! I'll take you both on, bitches. Even with your curses.
Isyn: That was a blessing! I'm blessed now!
curi: uh huh
Tirin: *sings* If there's nothing missing in her life, Why do tears come at night?
Virtue Pure: I'm not sure this violence is conducive to flourishing. Maybe we should talk things out.
Elliot: Fuck you all. I'm leaving.

Elliot beings to walk off. Rain pelts his face. He trudges along slowly, looking down but not seeing and thus stumbling on every rock and rut. Virtue Pure chases after him.

Elliot: Leave me alone.
Virtue Pure: But I want to help.
Elliot: I'm not the one who needs help, baka. They're the ones who can't talk about anything and just get in sword fights or invoke dark powers.
Virtue Pure: Erm, but.....
Elliot: Go bug them, goodie goodie.
Virtue Pure: *hesitates*
Elliot: *runs off*

Meanwhile, Tirin finishes singing Lucky, as curi melees with Caeli and Isyn.

To Be Continued...

Translation Note: Baka means idiot in Japanese.


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Ageism Watch

source

"I've learned that 99% of the time when something isn't working in your house, one of your kids did it."


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i wonder if anyone is listening

Dan is a bit confused about democracy

if you had an "ideal" democracy in the really absurd and stupid sense that everyone votes on every issue, and everyone's vote counts (and yes, if you're thinking that isn't coherent, you're right), well what would happen is, most things that got voted on....well you'd have 7% for one policy, 4% for another, 3% for another, etc...

So then what? We could just have the highest thing win. Then 93% of the people get screwed I suppose (though they'll form parties, coalitions, and voting blocks so that won't happen as much in the future).

Or you could do run-offs. This slowly forces minority opinions to pick a more popular opinion to support, too. similar effect to parties/coalitions/voting-blocks

What we couldn't have is a mixed law that incorporates the ideas of every single voter. it wouldn't come out to have a coherent meaning. cause different people will support contradictory ideas.

so we discover the reality of our system is very similar to the real effects of a so-called "ideal" democracy (and also that you have to make some tough choices to have a workable democracy, and can't just rely on the "ideal" notion that everyone has a voice). and truth is there are very good reasons for a two party system. ok, i admit that point is debatable, but saying the US isn't a democracy is absurd (BTW I'm aware that there are technically other parties, but stuff *is* setup for only two parties to be powerful at a time).


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gogo morality

some people wonder something like, "How can anarcho-capitalism work? What if the people running the police/army kinda companies decided to stop playing nice, and take over?"

well, it seems to me this question is absurd. what if President Bush decided to stop playing nice and take over? there aren't even competing armies in the US! what would stop him?

well our society! he would be disobeyed at every level of the chain of command. his generals wouldn't do it. and no common soldiers would either. no one would.

if we evolved to an anarcho-capitalist society, we'd still have a country of good people who wouldn't obey orders to become conquerers.


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gogo thinking

I got positive feedback on this email to the Philosophy Now yahoogroup, so I thought I'd share it more widely:

On Saturday, November 8, 2003, at 01:27 AM, nowhere man wrote:

Can someone please explain to me why these type of discusion groups inevitably end up with people being rude and insulting? I was unaware that in order to make a comment about a subject one had to be pompous and demonstrate the very worse in psuedo-intellectual skills. Hell, I thought these discussions were simply meant to be a bit of fun.
It's not so much inevitable as common.  There are some generally accepted ideas in our society that say things like, "For certain subjects, if you aren't well-read, you can't say anything intelligent, or at least can't come up with any good ideas, or any new ideas."  And for other subjects, you're supposed to need a PhD.  Philosophy is one of the worst in this respect.  Most academic philosophers spend their time worrying about dead people, and seems under the impression that even if you study the dead people extensively, it's still very difficult to come up with an actual new idea.  They're also very good at sounding pompous and being hard to read, and most people seem to have accepted that's what philosophy is *supposed to be like*.  So, then, untrained philosophers tend not to sound like that, and thus get dismissed.  (That style is, in actuality, bad.  And a few notable philosophers did rebel against it.  Like Karl Popper, who was very concerned with writing clearly and understandably, and good at it too.)


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roleplaying is surprisingly fundamental

page 342 of Fabric says Thomas Kuhn thinks we can't comprehend two paradigms (ways of looking at the world) at once (and thus having one blinds us). i wonder what he thinks roleplayers do. ho hum.


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pasting from aim is easy :-)

curi42 (9:25:42 AM): there's 2 main approaches (plus a mixture is possible too): 1) absolutely ignore everything false or stupid the person says, and just write about better ideas and better ways to think and live. hopefully he'll see the good in them, like them, adopt some, and eventually he'll realise he doesn't act on his old, crap theories any longer (or maybe he *won't* ever notice the change, but will act good)
curi42 (9:27:01 AM): 2) criticism! i'm sure we could make a nice list of 50 reasons his ideas don't work. the premises are flawed in lots of ways. even if the premises were true, his conclusions still wouldn't follow. he contradicts hismelf repeatedly. etc etc etc
curi42 (9:27:40 AM): style 2 seems to have bad results with most people (though perhaps something similar to style 2, that somehow takes into account detailed knowledge of the person, would work very well)
curi42 (9:27:59 AM): but style 1 is easy to ignore.


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Bad/Evil

on a more interesting note, here's an email i just wrote:

I'm going to layout what I think bad is. I'm aware my answer doesn't tell us everything we'd like to know.

To start, we need to examine what a stable worldview is. A worldview can be said to be stable if new conjectures, new observations, new criticisms and arguments, won't send it off in new directions or otherwise cause it to change. A perfectly stable worldview would have to be entirely consistent, and entirely complete, otherwise it could be changed by new ideas.

Next, we ask what sort of stable worldviews can exist. I propose that there are three. The true, inverse, and null ones (alternatively: good, bad, and empty). The true one is stable because it's right about everything, and understands everything. The inverse one is stable because it's exactly the opposite of the true one, and persistently misinterprets all new ideas in the opposite of the true way, so that they are consistent with the inverse of the truth. The null worldview is stable because not only does it not say anything, but it can't learn anything either. It never hears of a new idea.

None of these perfectly stable worldviews exist (unless you feel like saying rocks qualify for the null view). They aren't real. But they can be approached. In practice, good ideas approach the true view, evil approaches the inverse view, and nihilism and relativism approach the null view.

Anyway, what is bad? Well, the ultimate in bad is the complete inverse worldview. And also, there can be lesser versions (ones with inconsistencies, and ones that don't yet deal with all subjects).


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Battle Cry Explained

As no one answered my post about the poem A Little Boy Lost (featured on my sidebar), I've decided to explain my take on it.

In the first two stanzas, the boy questions God and Christianity. In the first, he doesn't see how he could know about or understand God, when all he has to work with are his lesser (compared to God) thoughts. In the second, the boy proposes that he should love all of God's creations equally, which all share the Earth with him. Thus, he cannot love the Priest more than a bird.

In the third stanza, the Priest grabs the boy, angry at his blasphemy. Questioning the faith is not looked upon favorably. But there's something else here too: the observers, the other members of the church, do not see the Priest as attacking the boy, but only as helping him. Even when the Priest uses physical force, nothing seems amiss to the faithful.

The fourth stanza is the money stanza. Here, the Priest declares the boy a fiend, and spells out his offense. His offense was using reason to examine and judge church doctrine. The Priest considers his doctrine a "holy mystery" which is not supposed to be explained or thought about rationally.

The final two stanzas describe the brutal punishment of the boy. It's not clear if he's literally burned to death, or only metaphorically. But it is clear that he is badly hurt, and that the church turns a blind eye to the boy's parents' tears. Also note that Albion is England.

The final line is a very powerful one. Everything up to this point tells a tragic story where the Priest is clearly wrong (I suppose this may not be so clear to everyone; feel free to discuss that in the comments). Phrasing the line as a question is very important. There are no accusations to deny. There are no claims to refute. There's nothing to argue with. There's just a question to ponder. Are such horrid things done in England? Certainly they have been. And certainly some people still trumpet faith over reason. Maybe they don't burn blasphemers any longer, but how different are the suppressions of reason in favour of faith that do take place?


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Structural Epistemology Introduction Part 1

Imagine you are handed a black box. You can't open it, but on one side is an input mechanism, and on the other side is an output mechanism. For example, the input mechanism might be a keyboard, and the output a display screen. The box, somehow (you don't know the inner workings) maps inputs to outputs. That means if you give it an input, it figures out what output to give back, according to its inner workings. And for simplicity, assume the box is in no way random. For a given input, it always gives the same output.

Now, imagine someone gives you a second black box. And you test both out, and discover that for any input, both boxes give the same output. You test every single allowed input, and they always give the same answer. (The word I will use for this is: the two boxes have the same denotation). Now, the question is: do the boxes do the same thing? Do they contain the same knowledge?

Well, of course it's possible that they do. They might be the same inside. But can we be sure? Just because they always answer the same way, can we tell they definitely do the same thing? And either way, can we say they definitely have the same knowledge?

I'd like to apologise to non-programmers now. The following examples will probably look like gibberish to you. But read the English around them, and I think my point should still make sense.

Here are three different ways to do a multiply function. They all accurately multiply any integers. They have the exact same domain (allowed input), the same range (possible outputs), and they map (relate) the same elements of the domain (inputs) to the same elements of the range (outputs).

// iterative multiplication
int multiply(int a, int b)
{
    int total = 0;
    if (b > 0)
        for(int j=0; j<b; j++)
            total += a;
    if (b < 0)
        for(int j=0; j>b; j--)
            total -= a;
    return total;
}

// recursive multiplication
int multiply(int a, int b)
{
    if(b == 0)
        return 0;
    if(b > 0)
        return (a + multiply(a, b-1));
    if(b < 0)
        return ( (0 - a) + multiply(a, b+1));
}

// multiplication using a built-in function
int multiply(int a, int b)
{
    return a*b;
}

As you can see, even if you don't understand the code, all three are written differently. I assure you, however, they do give the same answers. Now, remember the black box I talked about? Well, lets say you have three that all do integer multiplication. The inner workings could be the three functions I just showed.

Do each of the black boxes do the same thing? No. Each uses a different procedure to find its answer. Like if you wanted to get from California to New York, you might go through Canada, through Mexico, or stay in the US the whole way. Each trip would start and end in the same place, but they'd certainly be different trips.

But the key question is whether each black box, or each multiply function, which has the exact same denotation, has the same knowledge.

I propose they do not. While they have the same denotation, I would say they have different knowledge structure. And to see why this matters, and makes a great difference: Alright, the boxes have the same functionality (namely multiplication) now, but what if we want to alter them? If we want to change their denotation, even just a little bit, then knowledge structure makes all the difference.

To be continued...

PS: I'm aware that I'm not using 'denotation' in the standard, dictionary way.

Note: David Deutsch explained much of what I know about structural epistemology to me. Kolya Wolf explained some too, and also Kolya originally thought of the idea.

Part 2

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On Charity

A common point of disagreement in political discussions is about human nature. Some people say that men should make their own choices, and control their own money. And believe that only good will come of freedom. Others would retort that the rich will have more choices, and abuse them to gain more power. Or at least assert that some people will be left behind without help through sheer bad luck (or not having a level playing field). And that generosity is not natural, so the government must step in to help.

Roughly, right wing people take the first view, and favour free markets, small government, and people deciding for themselves how charitable to be. And, roughly, left wing people don't trust humans to be charitable or fair without being controlled by government.

So when a right winger says he isn't against helping people, he just wants to decide how best to do it, and make sure his charity is effective (the government, he will say, is wasteful and spends charity money badly), a left winger will likely scoff. The left winger will think this is just a trick to get out of giving any charity at all. Because the left winger trusts his government to do everything right, he will see any attempt to pay less taxes or avoid forced charity as, clearly, a selfish attempt to get out of paying one's fair share or to get out of helping other people.

So, who's right?

Well, I've got a way to find out. Despite high tax levels (paid by both left and right wing), it is commonplace to give additional money, by choice, to charities. Now, if the left is correct, we should observe that the greedy right wingers donate very little to charity. But if the right is telling the truth that they are happy to give money to charity, as long as they pick which charity, and give money in ways they feel are effective, then we will observe, despite taxes, that right wingers do choose to donate significant amounts of money to charity.

The following table ranks each state by how generous it is. This was determined by taking into account the amount of money donated to charitable organisations, and also how rich the people in that state are. In other words, one gets a high ranking by giving a large portion of what he has. The states are color-coded. Red states voted for Bush in the 2000 election (they're, to decent precision, right wing). Blue states voted for Gore. I believe the table speaks for itself. (Thanks to The Rantblogger for the table.)

  1. Mississippi
  2. Arkansas
  3. South Dakota
  4. Oklahoma
  5. Alabama
  6. Tennessee
  7. Louisiana
  8. Utah
  9. South Carolina
  10. Idaho
  11. North Dakota
  12. Wyoming
  13. Texas
  14. West Virginia
  15. Nebraska
  16. North Carolina
  17. Florida
  18. Kansas
  19. Missouri
  20. Georgia
  21. New Mexico
  22. Montana
  23. Kentucky
  24. Alaska
  25. New York
  1. Indiana
  2. Iowa
  3. Ohio
  4. California
  5. Washington
  6. Maine
  7. Maryland
  8. Hawaii
  9. Delaware
  10. Illinois
  11. Pennsylvania
  12. Connecticut
  13. Vermont
  14. Virginia
  15. Oregon
  16. Colorado
  17. Arizona
  18. Michigan
  19. Nevada
  20. Wisconsin
  21. Minnesota
  22. Massachusetts
  23. New Jersey
  24. Rhode Island
  25. New Hampshire

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I wonder if the category should be epistemology or morality

Tom Robinson is now officialy my coolest reader. He commented as follows WRT inverse theory:

I'm slightly fuzzy about this inverse world view. Is it wrong about everything, or just some things, or just incoming morally-weighted facts? I mean, The Emperor knows that 0+1=1, so if he starts with no Death Star and then builds one new Death Star, then he'll end up with ... a Death Star. He knows this to be true despite being the epitome of evil.
To start, I deny The Emperor actually is the epitome of evil, or even all that close. But anyway, I would say if we have propositions A, B, and C, and A and B are consistent with each other. And C contradicts A. This implies that C and B somehow contradict. There aren't multiple ways to hold B and be consistent, so if A really is consistent with B and inconsistent with C, then B must be inconsistent with C. This follows directly from the idea that there is one truth.

To put in real propositions, B states 0+1=1. A states that we shouldn't murder Jews. I propose A and B are consistent. C states that we should murder Jews. I propose A and C are inconsistent. I conclude that B and C are inconsistent -- that wanting to murder Jews and doing math right contradict. This works with any form of being evil and math.

It is hard to see what the inverse worldview looks like. It is foreign to us, and most of its twisted logic beyond our worst nightmares. We get glimpses in the bad people of our world, but they are nowhere near the limits of evil.

Good people are succesful and flourish. Bad people, therefore, are unsucessful and do not flourish objectively, even if they think they do (or perhaps they think flourishing is bad, and think they do not flourish). I believe, in the limit, evil people would be unable to eat meals, or otherwise manage to even stay alive.

My explanation of why the bad people of our world manage to eat, and even manage to use creativity to plan nasty attacks, is that they are inconsistent. Much of their worldviews are true. They use the true bits to function. But they also have a significant, inverse portion, from which they take many of their goals and motives.

Notably, it is this inconsistent combination that allows them to be truly dangerious. An evil person who uses some true ideas to get what he wants is more threatening than an evil person who's own evil has rendered him impotent.


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example for previous entry

just read this about Soros, a billionaire who's giving away money trying make Bush lose the 2004 election.

if a democrat was consistent with his ideals, he'd be poor-ish. cause his ideals include misunderstanding economics, opposing business, and wasting money. but Soros is rich. how'd that happen? well, he's inconsistent.

if all democrats were consistent they'd be a crappy political force. but they manage to find people who somehow, inconsistently, are democrats who are good at this or that thing that the rest of the democrats can't manage. and this way they can end up with some rich supporters despite their ideology, and thus be more dangerous.


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on skool

Teacher: A person who talks in other people's sleep.

What's long and hard and fucks little girls? Elementary school.


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Popper Is Fallible

(If the quotes don't have a blue background, hit refresh. If they still don't, go here, refresh that, and then come back and try again.)

I just read a little of The Myth of the Framework by Karl Popper. I noticed two oversights I thought were worth pointing out. Both quotes are from page 175, and the first immediately precedes the second.

If we eliminate from language ambiguous terms like 'yesterday', a term which today means something different from what it will mean tomorrow, and if we take some further similar precautions, then it follows from Tarski's theory that every statement in this purified language will be either true or false, with no third possibility.

The issue Popper is worried about is evaluating whether the statement "Yesterday was Sunday." is true. He thinks this will be ambiguous, because it depends on what day we evaluate it. And his solution is to purify our language by removing all terms with variable meaning (presumably all pronouns too).

But this is very silly. All we have to do to decide if "Yesterday was Sunday." is true is to substitute in referenced concepts before saving the sentence for later evaluation when the references might not work any longer. What I mean is here 'yesterday' means 'the day before November 17, 2003'. The day before November 17, 2003 will always be Sunday whenever we evaluate the sentence. (And even if our calendar system should change, the meaning and truth of the sentence will not.) So, no purified language is necessary, if we will only bother to pay attention to the actual content of the sentence (alternatively, we could keep the form of the sentence exactly the same, but save with it all relevant data, such as in this case the date it was written).

Moreover, we can have an operation of negation in our language such that if a proposition is not true, then its negation is true.
This shows that of all propositions one half will be true and the other half false. So we can be sure that there will be lots of true propositions, even though we may have great trouble in finding out which they are.

I think this is actually quite funny. Yeah, there are lots of true propositions when you include the negation of false propositions... But most of them are things like, "I did not go to England yesterday," and "My house is not painted red," and "My name is not Fred." In reality, it makes sense to say there are a lot more ways to be wrong than to be right.


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Structural Epistemology Introduction Part 2

Part 1

Last time I alluded to the most important aspect of knowledge structure: some structures are more or less resistant to being changed to have some other function (denotation). Additionally, whether a structure is easy to change to some new problem is not simply a matter of luck. Rather, some structures are better than others, because they contain more knowledge. Now I will give some illustrations.

First, let's reexamine the multiply function. What if the situation changed and we suddenly had to rewrite our multiply function with a special constraint? Such as, what if the built-in multiplication function in our programming language was no longer available? Or what if user-defined function calls suddenly became very slow and expensive? Or what if there was a problem with assignment, and we couldn't use that (basically, no equal sign allowed).

It turns out each of these problems would break one of the multiply functions so badly we would be better off starting over from scratch than trying to salvage it, and the other two wouldn't need even a single change. (If you're wondering, no built-in multiplication ruins the third multiply; no assignment ruins the iterative version; and user-defined function calls being expensive ruins the recursive version.) This demonstrates that structure makes a difference. But so far none are obviously better than others.

Next, lets imagine we were writing a program that played some game, and a few dozen times in the program we needed to refer to the number of actions each player gets per turn. And lets suppose it's 8 now, but possible this may change in future versions of the game. One thing we could do is everywhere we need to refer to the number of actions per turn, put an 8. The program will run just fine. But if we have to change the number of actions per turn later (or perhaps we'd just like to try out a different number to see how it works, to see if changing it might be a good idea at all), then we will have to go through our whole program and alter a few dozen lines of code! That's a pain, and there's a better way.

What we should do is define a constant variable, int ACTIONS_PER_TURN = 8, and then write ACTIONS_PER_TURN instead of 8 throughout our program. Then, we could very easily change the number of actions per turn by altering a single line of code. This new program using a constant variable has exactly the same denotation as the original one with 8 everywhere -- someone playing the game will never know the difference. But not only is the structure different using a constant variable, it's better because it allows significant advantages in ways it can be changed, with no disadvantage at all(1). One way to put the difference is it contains the knowledge that each of the dozens of 8's in the program is really the same thing, thus allowing them to be changed as a group.

Another example of trying to change a program, is if we had our multiply programs and wanted to do exponentiation (assume there is no built-in function for that). In that case, the program that relied on built-in multiplication is absolutely useless. Just as it would be useless to change to anything at all that wasn't built in. This reveals its structure has very little knowledge in it. On the other hand, the recursive and iterative multiply programs could both be changed to do exponentiation fairly easily. They could also be altered to do a host of other things, because each has a knowledge-laden structure. In effect, they are both set up to do work (in a certain way), and only need to be told what type. (It's not clear which one has more structural knowledge. I believe the recursive one does, but they are useful in different ways.)

So, to sum up, if we wish to change a program to do something else, depending on its structure, we may have an easy time of it, or may be totally out of luck. And furthermore, some structures are better than others, because they contain more knowledge.


(1) It will run negligibly slower, or compile negligibly slower in a compiled language. And I mean negligibly.

PS I understand that if you knew that, for what you were doing, certain structural knowledge was entirely unnecessary, and never would be useful, you might intentionally leave it out, and say this was a better design. However this is very rare on anything but the most trivial project, and does not ruin the idea of better structures. It's just like, if I was trying to learn physics, I might not need an economics lecture. But we can still say economics has useful, true knowledge, and that there is better and worse economic knowledge.

To be clearer, the objection I fear goes, "Constants are nice, if you're going to change them, but if you aren't, using them is a waste of time, therefore which structure is better depends entirely on the problem at hand, and thus better is only a relative term for knowledge structures." This is wrong. It is equivalent to saying, "The laws of supply and demand are nice, if you're learning about economics, but if you aren't, learning them is a waste of time, therefore whether hearing the laws of supply and demand or nothing is better depends entirely on the problem at hand, and thus better is only a relative term for economic theories." In both cases the 'and thus' clause simply does not follow. Just because we might not want a bit of knowledge this instant does not make it equivalent to no knowledge, or make its value relative.

PPS Mad props to David Deutsch, 'cause he's cool.


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)

I Hate Jew Hatred

Frank J (a Catholic) got anti-semitic hatemail. Emperor Misha commented:

We're ALL Jews now.

I agree. (Misha also says more here.)

I very much like the sentiments that if people are going to target Jews, we should stand up with the Jews. Neutrality is useful if you see two gangs of barbarians fighting; there is no point in getting yourself killed over that. Who cares who wins? But when two groups clash, and one is good, and one is bad, neutrality just won't cut it. What truly good person could abandon the side of good?

But there's more to it than just that we should stand with the Jews. Why do they confuse us with Jews? Well, we agree with Jews a lot. We think Israel should exist (more than that: that it is one of the most moral countries on the planet). We oppose Arab terrorism. No excuses. It's wrong, horrid, and evil. And we use Jew logic. Which says things like you don't win discussions by authority; rather we should look for good arguments. And that we should hold our ideas true and mutable (tentatively true, if you prefer). And, heh, that 2+2 is 4. The Jews in America are not outsiders. Or more like, it's easy to confuse Americans with Jews. It's not just that we stand with Jews (far less than we should), it's that through the eyes of The Enemy, we look and act as if we are Jews.

And if you think talking about good and evil is too simplistic and therefore false, I pray you spend a lot of time around fire and brimstone. And, yes, I am an avowed atheist. But that won't save you from hell >:-D

PS In general when I write 'we' I am including Jews, but not in this piece.


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (10)

i've got issues

Scrappleface thinks that birth control is evil. his reasoning is that it lets young girls have sex without horrid consequences. and we can't have that!

I replied: cause actually sex is evil, unless you get a wizard to perform a "marriage ritual" spell, which makes it ok.


thus far all I got back was someone replying that I have issues. good argument! ho hum.


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (3)

email is fun

On Sunday, November 23, 2003, at 08:37 AM, A Poster wrote:

Subject Line: shouldn't TCS be questioned?

Yes, of course. It even says so, does it not? Now, some people seem to have the idea that TCS holds itself up infallible, but reality seems to be against them. For example, I no longer use the "official" TCS definition of coercion.

(Of course, one should not make such a change haphazardly, or on a whim, but rather after deep understanding of the official definition, and its strengths. And one should be careful the new version really is an improvement. etc)

What happens to all those families out there who find that, according to their own lights, TCS seems like a really bad, dangerous idea?

Well, until they give some good reason (an argument), I will consider their lights wrong. But I won't hunt them down; all that *happens* (in my view) is they have worse lives than they might.

Even if some of it has changed their lives for the better? But that certain aspects of - say - hardcore rationalism, dogged belief in the TCS 'way', an abiding faith in the TV as a *good thing*, ditto eating what you feel like....all have and continue to.... feel a bit unnatural?

well i think you've misunderstood TCS here. while i will insist that TV shows are, in principle, great things, just like books, I will also concede that there are both many bad books and many bad TV shows. Personally I don't watch tons of TV. mostly japanese anime and movies and southpark oh and The OC. lots of other stuff is great if you have the right problem situation for it, and many people are too negative about TV, but for some problem situations not watching a whole lot of TV would make sense.

as to eating, well we should eat what we want, and we should want to eat the right things to eat. true and changeable. favorite and changeable. you need *both* sides of that coin. the solution to bad eating habits is not to eat what you don't want to. that's just hurting yourself. the solution is to find some good arguments about what is right to eat, and then want to eat that way because you really do believe it's right.

personally, i eat almost no candy and desert fairly rarely, and have a general distaste for too much sugar. i think i'm weird about that, but *shrug*. i *also* don't like salad much.

What if believing in these things starts to make parent feel totally duped and like he doesn't have enough faith in his own good ideas?

You should not hold ideas true because someone said so, not even Elliot Temple nor David Deutsch. You've got to act on your best theories, which means only arguments that you find make sense. Even if some theory is true, if you don't understand it, it's no good to you (though maybe it will be later). And if you do this, faith in your own ideas should not be an issue, because you would know of none you consider better.

Isn't this TCS working against itself? That would be a good thing, right? But then if the TCS parent turns off the TV because he wants to, and does the things he wants to do, because he strongly believes those things to be better for his children - and,yeah, he 'could be wrong, but so what? - he would be said to be reacting to his coerced and unhappy former way of life (and was possibly evil according to some of the TCS inner circle)?

Well, as to making choices for your children, it's not just that you could be wrong, but also that it isn't your choice to make. Children are people with their own lives. You should decide if you want to watch TV, and if someone says you should, you can decline their advice and not watch. And if your children want to watch, and you advise against it, it's still their call.

Just as TCSers will not rule any parent's life by force, parents should not rule their children's lives by force.

Isn't all this a bit fucked up? Maybe the parent should just go and get a life, take his children seriously the way it makes sense to him, be willing to question himself constantly, be aware of his fallibility, but forget all about the harm done to his home by the less desirable aspects of TCS

I want to point out that your understanding of TCS is fallible, so even if hypothetically TCS was perfect, sometimes your understanding of TCS would be wrong, and you would be right to act contrary to it when you thought you knew better. This is manifest in the way most of what you think TCS is wrong about, I think you've simply misunderstood.

Don't let "I think TCS says X" pressure you into doing X. Maybe it doesn't even.

Sometimes he can't work out which is worse, but maybe it doesn't matter,

Well, I can tell you that how you parent *does* matter to your children. So this stuff is important.

-- Elliot Temple
http://www.curi.us/


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)

In-The-Limit Worldview Theory

If we start with some worldview, it will have inconsistencies (internal contradictions) and it will not be aware of all facts and won't have stances on everything. However, over time, we can make it more consistent, and take stances on more issues (make it more complete), then in the limit, it would be perfectly consistent and have stances on all possible issues. Such that no matter what someone told you, you'd never need to change your worldview anymore.

In the limit means in the extreme case. Like if you kept making your worldview more complete and more consistent until you couldn't anymore that'd be the limit

I posit there are three different perfectly consistent complete worldviews that you could have reached. One is commonly called true. But there's actually 2 others that are consistent and complete.

One is empty or null. When asked questions it .... doesn't answer. On the way there I suppose adherents would deny stuff matters. But in the limit, I don't think they could speak or move. They'd be dead. They would have no theories and not be able to learn or get new ones.

And the last is the inverse/false/evil/opposite/bad whatever view. None of the three worldviews share any common points of agreement. But unlike the null view, this one does say stuff about the world ... but none of it true. It has some sort of twisted logic whereby false statements are made to all come out consistent. I don't know the details of it. But I think it is possible to be consistent about opposing truth/goodness.

One consequence of this is: people complain that logic alone can't tell us about morality. It can tell us what contradicts what, but how's it to say what is good? Well, if we accept these three in-the-limit views, we can speak about statements approaching one of them, or being a member of one of them. Now logic can do everything but one single value judgment of comparing the three WVs. And I believe the value judgment is pretty easy. One view says life doesn't matter. One says life is bad. One says life is good...

You may object that logic alone can't tell us everything, because, for example, physics isn't determined by logic. Nor is which house my friend lives in. Well, of course contingent questions depend on contingent details (contingent means not necessary means not implied by logic). But that's not the point. I'm not saying we should figure everything out by pure logic. As stated, first we would need to know everything (have all three views laid out) and then we could answer all moral questions with logic (well actually we could say which of the three worldviews various ideas were part of). (Actually some statements aren't part of any. We'd identify those separately as simply inconsistent ideas.)

The point was simply that this is theoretically possible (well not with perfection, but with arbitrarily high accuracy). Which means if someone says "morality is a matter of taste" ... Well, logically, the matter of taste is between three choices, one of which says life is bad and one says life doesn't matter.... This retort is useful and important.

The three worldviews share no common points of agreement. So if we determine a proposition is in one (say: Jews shouldn't die is in the good one), then contradictory theories (Jews should die) are not in the good one.

We do need independent (from what I've said here) arguments about which propositions go in which worldview. But if you can argue that a proposition is in one of the worldviews, then you can refer to the in the limit consequences it, and of its rivals, which is powerful.

PS This is my entirely original theory. Just saying. :-)


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (12)

repost from tcsblog 1

Alice comments:

For some sensible discussion of the issues, rather than just Dan and Elliot fighting with each other, see the TCS list

Excuse me, but that's extremely insulting. If you disagree with me, argue it. If you agree, then acknowledge I'm making important points relevant to growing TCS (if I'm right, then what I'm saying is important), rather than belittling my ideas.

The tendency to see a disagreement and then declare that both sides are wrong because they are fighting, is perverse. The most well known example is WRT Israel and terrorists. People decide both sides *must* have done lots wrong, and must both be guilty, simply because there is a large-scale disagreement and there are arguments put forward on either side of the issue (not necessarily true, but just attempts). Nevermind that one side could be right, and the arguments against it wrong. Nevermind that condemning the right side would be a great moral failure.

Here, too, Alice sees a disagreement, labels it a "fight", then refuses to pay attention to who's right, and just takes the stance, in effect, that all fighting is bad therefore we're both wrong. Hello? That's moral relativism. (Incidentally, moral relativism is one of Dan's qualities that I don't hold with.)


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (6)

Repost from tcsblog 2

What Alice should have written, if she valued moral clarity more, was something like, "I object to the title "Fuck Dan in the ass" written by Elliot, because it's a personal attack. I consider that immoral.

Then I imagine a conversation something like this:

Elliot: Would you consider "fuck Michael Moore in the ass" a personal attack?
Alice: huh?
Elliot: well it's nothing personal, i just think his worldview is evil, right?
Alice: ok, not a personal attack
Elliot: so the title about Dan wasn't a "personal attack" either
Alice: huh?
Elliot: cause i just think Dan's worldview, like Michael Moore's, is immoral. i'm condemning a worldview. that's a perfectly legitimate thing to do.
Alice: ok, it's not a "personal" attack but it's still wrong?
Elliot: Why?

Alice would then give ad hoc (made up on the spot) reasons to object. No one would be surprised when they were bad and easily refuted. Alice would then not acknowledge this, and insist the title was immoral, because her feelings tell her so. When accused of not acting rationally she would deny it.

Notably I am aware of other reasons to object to the title. It's even fairly likely Alice would try some of those too before resorting to ad hoc arguments. But besides knowing them, I've worked out answers to them (in advance, mind you).

I'll go through one example. Some might say the title will offend readers and thus reduce readership (some will leave angrily) and thus inhibit the spread of TCS and thus make the world worse. They might suggest the solution is to refrain from writing stuff that might offend people (perhaps, "unless it was really important, but that title wasn't important"). The problem here though, is that we should stand up for our values, which allow for profanity and condemnation of bad people (at least I hope those are our values). Compromising our values to get more readers compromises our message. I mean, if we really wanted more readers, and to avoid offending people, we should probably be recommending "friendly punishments" of children or something. Of course that is a bad road to go down. We must stand firm in our beliefs, and if people don't like them, that doesn't mean we should back down or compromise in search of friends.


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (13)

Alice the censorship queen

Alice deleted 2 posts (reposted right below this entry here) of mine from TCS blog because she was offended. she says she isn't a libertarian on that issue. *ahem*

notably, my convo was wrong. what really happened is she told me it was a personal attack, i asked hadn't i refuted that, and then gave a more complete version of the argument, and she said that probably it was a personal attack but i just didn't know, and wouldn't argue the subject. lovely.

also note she didn't save copies when deleting them, despite the fact I would have had no reason to have saved a copy. (fortunately i left a browser window open, and checked AIM before i hit refresh, which would have lost them, but that's only blind luck)

more later, leaving though

update: more here


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (6)

jew praise

there's a lot of incoherent hatred of jews out there. i decided to conjecture that maybe they know something i don't -- maybe somehow being kinda incoherent gets followers.

so i wanted to give map props to all the jews out there for making the world a better place. i especially appreciate how they want to live in peace with non-jews. i don't go to sleep at night wondering if a jew will kill me before i wake up. and not being terrorists, man that's really good of you. and killing terrorists for me, that's cool too. i'm just no soldier. man, if it weren't for the jews, there would be lots more evil for'ners still alive who wanted to kill me. and i don't even own a big gun. so all the jews shooting guns for me, thanks a lot.

also, i wish i was a jew. then i'd be rich, i think. jews are so good at making the economy better. well, at least i'm richer thanks to them, even if i'm not jewish enough to be rich. one day if i'm really lucky maybe there will be so many jews that even I can be super rich. i'd like to be rich. and it'd all be thanks to the jews, who work so hard to make our economy so strong.

the jews have contributed so much to science it really blows the mind. do you know how many great scientists were jews? lots of them! man, even David Deutsch is a jew. what if some stupid terrorist had killed him? man, my life would be so much worse. it's a good thing the jews killed so many terrorists that that didn't happen.

you know who i really hate? the nazis. know why? they killed jews. man, if they hadn't done that, maybe europe wouldn't suck ass. i mean, if you kill everyone cool, you end up with a bunch of dorks. it's just logic. i wish the jews had killed all the nazis. that would have been super sweet. i can just imagine a big jew with a pair of axes going around hacking nazis down left and right. and then when he was done he'd probably sell the axes like a good capitalist. i bet he would. then someone else could use them, and we'd all be richer.

so, yeah, mad props to the jews. thanks for keeping it real and stuff. ^_^


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)

Praising Jews

I wanted to ask all my readers who have blogs to write an entry praising Jews. The goal here is not to put forward arguments againt anti-semitism, nor to denying hating Jews. It is simply to show moral clarity on the issue of praising Jews.

It is commonplace to say things like, "That movie rocked." But most people will refuse to say "Jews rock." I think this is perverse, and we should stand up for our values.

Leave a comment or email me if you do it, and I'll keep a list.

PS Jews rock.


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (24)

thinking

" I don't know how Socrates did it. Having these discussions day in, day out." (link)

this after like 5 posts by him.

me: 11 emails/day average for over a year, plus forum posts and blog commenting, plus realtime chat (irc, aim). lots of realtime. more time on that than email including reading email (read maybe 5-10 emails for every post, hard to say exactly, and i would read pretty much everything very thoroughly at the time, too). this was b4 my blog. it only stopped cause i couldn't find enough new people worth talking to, and got bored of most of the old ones.

i changed my views too often to count. i don't anymore. because new arguments i haven't heard a dozen times are harder and harder to come by.

it used to be people complained that one day we'd argue, then by the next time we ran into each other to speak again, they would have come up with a new reason my view was wrong ... but i would have already changed it before they could use their argument. some people thought i didn't take my current views seriously enough, and were annoyed they couldn't seem to prove me wrong because i'd always switch views first.

now the consensus (same people, mostly, mind you) is that i'm arrogant and never consider that i could be wrong. "when was the last time you backed down in an argument?" they say. "when was the last time i heard a new one in public?" i retort. but they shrug and hate me. and if i mention that when talking to cool people (in private nearly always) i do change my views reasonably often, even today, they just take me for delusional if not a liar.


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (7)

A Conversation On Israel

I wrote this conversation to show what it's like talking to a certain type of person. I won't label that type of person, but I hope this piece should make it clear.

(One thing I changed is: I made Isyn speak very clearly. Do not expect this in real life. Rather, expect to decode cryptic, confusing, contradictory claims heavy on noise.)

Isyn: Down with Israel! Oppression is wrong!
curi: erm
Isyn: Bush lied, people died!
curi: What's wrong with Israel again?
Isyn: Just because the Palestinians are defenseless doesn't make it alright to kill them.
curi: You'd kill me if I dropped my guard.
Isyn: That's different. You were, ummm, eyeing my woman.
curi: Well, Israel doesn't murder Palestinians.
Isyn: Look here, at this news article. Israeli Defense Forces troops fired guns and Palestinians died. QED.
curi: Those were terrorists.
Isyn: Not all. Some were just standing near the terrorists throwing rocks. Is throwing rocks a crime? Maybe. But what kind of evil country punishes it by death? And even the terrorists should have been arrested not murdered. Sure terrorism is wrong, but that doesn't justify murder.
curi: Israel is a democracy and the Arab states around it are tyrannies that want to destroy Israel. Israel has repeatedly offered peace to the nations around it and to the Palestinian terrorists (who have deliberately broken the peace agreements every single time). Israel wants a Palestinian state, and the Palestinian terrorists want the Israelis dead.
Isyn: How is that supposed to justify murder? And besides that's only what neo-con historians write. If you read more accurate sources, you'll see that's not the whole story.
curi: Are you aware of even one of the wars in which the Arab nations around Israel tried to destroy Israel?
Isyn: It wasn't quite like that. You can't prove that happened.
curi: So whatever I say about the facts of the matter, you will dismiss, even if I cite a half dozen sources for each claim? On the basis that my sources are all biased or imperfect.
Isyn: Right.
curi: Argh! Fine then, new approach. Do you agree with self-defense?
Isyn: How is murdering people self-defense?
curi: Well, if someone tries to kill you, and you kill him first to save your own life, that's self-defense. This is right, whereas the alternative of dying would just plain suck.
Isyn: He started it, she started it. It's easy to point fingers. But we won't make any progress until both sides admit what they did wrong. Sometimes the Palestinians start it; sometimes the IDF does. And sometimes some innocents Palestinians die in the crossfire to IDF bullets.
curi: What if, hypothetically, we imagined a conflict where one side was wrong and one side was right. Can you imagine that?
Isyn: I guess, in the abstract, I could imagine a black and white picture, but the world is full not only of shades of grey, but of colours too. So it's more complicated than that.
curi: In this hypothetical black and white picture, lets say the whites were good and the blacks were evil, and in every fight the blacks were at fault. With me so far?
Isyn: So far I can see that you're a racist. Blacks are full people.
curi: Argh! Okay, lets rename them. We'll have the elves are good and the orcs are bad. And every conflict the orcs are at fault. With me so far?
Isyn: I don't think the Lord of the Rings was such a simple matter of good versus evil. The elves had faults, and the orcs had bad situations to cope with.
curi: Yeah, but, I'm not talking about the Lord of the Rings. This is a hypothetical about two abstract groups of people, only named elves and orcs. So, can you imagine them with me, please?
Isyn: Okay, what's next?
curi: Great. So, the orcs start a lot of fights with the elves, trying to steal their stuff, and kill them. The elves are good with bows, but not perfect. So when orc raiders come a bunch of elves will go up on the roofs and shoot at orcs. Some of the elves stay on the ground and have the dangerous job of facing the orcs directly. Sometimes, by accident, a stray arrow that was aimed at an orc, misses and hits an elven defender. Also, sometimes some orcs will chase some elven civilians, and the archers shooting at them might miss and accidentally hit a civilian. With me?
Isyn: I see a great battle.
curi: And the orcs are trying to rape and pillage and murder the elves.
Isyn: Right. And the elves are trying to kill the orcs too.
curi: Because the orcs attacked them. It's in self-defense.
Isyn: If the elves aren't bloodthirsty, why do they shoot their own?
curi: They are shooting at orcs but don't have perfect aim.
Isyn: Well if they can't hit what they aim at, maybe they should stop firing. They're just killing indiscriminately.
curi: No, they have really good aim, and almost always hit their mark, and if they stopped firing they would all be massacred, but sometimes, now and then, they do miss.
Isyn: Well they should practice more.
curi: They already practice as much as they possibly can.
Isyn: Do they ever read books?
curi: Yes.
Isyn: Well they could stop reading books to practice more to save lives. Reading books, in this case, proves the elves' murderous intentions. They don't mind causing collateral damage.
curi: Yes they do mind. But you can't ask them to spend their entire lives practicing with bow. They have other important things to do. They must balance their time reasonably.
Isyn: How is not killing their own unworthy of more time?
curi: Well they need to grow food. And build houses. And raise their children. And spend time thinking to make sure they fight for truly good causes. That's all necessary.
Isyn: Maybe they could save time by not having children.
curi: You want to see the elves die out?
Isyn: I don't like to see elves murder elves and anyway if there were no elves there would be no war either. Don't you care about World Peace?
curi: Argh! You hate the elves more than the orcs.
Isyn: I just think you should stop pretending the elves are flawless.
curi: They are very good by definition. That was a premise.
Isyn: Then why do they murder each other?
curi: I heard in World War II 10% of casualties were friendly fire.
Isyn: What an indiscriminate blood bath!
curi: Argh! You twist everything. You'll probably deny my door exists next.
Isyn: How do you know you have a door?
curi: It's that thing I open to get into my room.
Isyn: Your senses, like the elves' bows, aren't perfect. Maybe you're wrong. Aren't you a fallibilist?
curi: Fallibility does not preclude tentatively holding theories to be objectively true.
Isyn: Prove it.
curi: Of course I can't. No certain proofs exist. Aren't you a fallibilist?
Isyn: You can't prove I'm not. And about the door, you might be lying or trying to trick me. I haven't even seen your supposed door myself.
curi: Your life sounds lonely.
Isyn: What?
curi: Well, you spend all your time making up criticism of good ideas (there are an infinity of false criticisms for every truth). But do you ever take a chance and conjecture that something might be true or good? Do you ever have trust in anyone or anything? Do you value anything?
Isyn: Stop changing the subject. That's an ad hominem argument.
curi: I'm not arguing anymore. I tired of it. I concede that you really can avoid listening as long as you want (though that does not make you right).
Isyn: If you're not arguing, what are you doing?
curi: Trying to help you?
Isyn: I'm not interested in help from someone who condones murder. I think you need help.
curi: Do you recall the first thing you said today?
Isyn: Remind me.
curi: "Down with Israel!" If Israel fell, what do you think would happen? Didn't you condone murder?
Isyn: Death, but only of murderers. Don't you agree that killing murderers isn't murder?
curi: So, to be clear, in your view: if Israelis kill Palestinians, that's murder, because the Israelis are in the wrong. But if Palestinians kill Israelis, that's not murder, because the Palestinians are in the right.

----- Ending One: Sad But True -----
Isyn: No, that's not what I said. Stop accusing me of taking sides. I'm not like you.
curi: Ummm, yeah, whatever, bye. *wanders off*
----- Ending Two: Wishful Thinking -----
Isyn: Yeah, I guess you got it. You cornered me. That's my view. I wasn't so sure at first, but this discussion helped me see it more clearly.
curi: And, the arguments you use -- the style and content both -- the whole approach to the issue really: would you say other people using them have the same view as you?
Isyn: They better. The arguments prove my view. Anyone using them who didn't take my view would be inconsistent. And probably a liar. Anyone who understood the arguments would take my view. But lying would be understandable, because people who speak the truth as I do are persecuted by the neo-cons like you.
curi: And your view, again, is that the Israelis are murderers, correct?
Isyn: Yeah. Well, it's the Jews really. There are some Arab Israelis who are innocent.
curi: Point noted.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (5)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

political cartoon

French guy says to US: what do you mean you can't hand over power in iraq within 30 days? we handed power over to the nazis faster than that.


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

must write posts

my hit counter went up. i do want hits. know what that means? pressure! ahhhhhhhh *runs around screaming* or at least it means i'd rather not post nothing much for like a week or however long it's been. here's 2 sayings by *me*:

Humans live by their creativity, not by devouring limited resources.

People twist their factual views to fit their moral views, not vice versa.


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)

TCS

I know! Since I have hits I should post about parenting. For the good of The Children.

TCS (Taking Children Seriously) is the true parenting theory. Its primary ideas are:

- Fallibility (certain knowledge is impossible; people can be wrong)

- No Authorities (ideas must be judged on their merit, not their source; therefore, children can be right and can't be automatically dismissed)

- Coercion is the state of two or more personality strands being expressed in different options of a single choice so that one cannot see a way to choose without forsaking some part of his personality.

- Coercion is bad for knowledge growth, and quite simply hurts people, including children

- Common Preferences, coercion-free solutions to problems, are always possible

- This means, quite literally, that there is a possible way of parenting in which children do not do anything against their own will

- An important part of getting what one wants is changing what one wants to better desires, including more relisable ones

- Once we realise changing what we want to better wants is good, we no longer need fear always getting what we want as being spoiled or immoral -- as long as we improve our desires sufficiently it would only be good

- What people want is subject to morality, and thus children won't want horrible things, as long as parents offer sufficiently good moral theories

- Good ideas beat out bad ones in argument (and thus if parent's moral theories really are better than their rivals, parent won't lose argument)

- If your ideas are so great, have some faith in them to stand up to criticism!

- Criticism is good. Criticism is a gift. Cherish criticism

- Abandonment Parenting is morally wrong (parents have an obligation to help their children)

- Advice Advice Advice (parents should give children lots of advice, but children should be free to disagree)

- Don't Hurt Children (I can't say this enough)

- And most importantly: send all children to Hebrew School (joking)


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Jew Praise Followup

I recently asked bloggers to post praise of Jews. There are three takers:

Evangelical Outpost (well close enough)

Elegance Against Ignorance (who also write this)

fr0ggE (who updates like never)

The general response, as seen in comments, and here were far more negative. In short, people were outraged.

This is exactly what I expected. I made the request after being shocked by the inability of a few people to praise Jews. And true to conjecture, the scary trend continued.

People make all sorts of excuses. Commonly they try to draw a distinction between individuals and groups. But sheesh, we say people rock when we know perfectly well those people consist of a group of theories, some good, and some bad. But it's not symmetric. Just because someone is part good, part bad, does not make him morally neutral. He could be predominantly good, and then it would make perfect sense to say he rocked. So too with Jews.

Another trend was an appeal to moral relativism. Yeah, Jews rock, and so do Palestinians, and so do North Koreans. And sure Jews die, but people in Africa starve to death too. Hello? Since when is being murdered morally equivalent to starving? If I walk down the street and see someone hungry, I need not give him my money. (If you think I should feed him, and his children, let me ask: The more children he chooses to have, the more food I owe him? Or what?) But if I walk down the street and murder someone, this is an outrage, and there should be a public outcry, leading to the use of force against me. Murderers should be stopped. Anyone resistant to this is wicked.

Anyhow, anti-semitism really disgusts me. But I think you've caught that already, so I've give it a rest for the moment.


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The Hedge Knight

The Hedge Knight is a short story by George RR Martin. It's set in his A Song of Ice and Fire world, which is simply the best fantasy I know of. Anyway, this entry is about morality, but I do need to summarise the plot first (spoiler warning, if you care).

Dunk is a poorly trained knight, but a good person. A wicked prince attacks a commoner girl because she did a puppet show that involved a dragon being slain, and the royal family's sigil is a dragon. Dunk (who is large) kicked the prince to the dirt to rescue the girl. But attacking a prince is illegal. The punishment is to lose his hand and a foot.

However, Dunk has a second option: trial by combat, in which it is supposed that the Gods will favour the righteous. Dunk goes for combat, but the prince insists on a Trial of Seven (there are seven Gods). This means a seven versus seven battle, until all the accusers or all the accused are vanquished. If either side can't get a full seven men behind their cause, they are considered wrong. (If the cause is just, why will no one fight for it?)

Minutes before the combat, Dunk is one man short. But then another prince, a good one, joins his side (against three of the royal family, and three of the royal guard, on the other side!). In the combat, two of Dunk's companions plus the kind prince are slain before Dunk forces the wicked prince to yield (Dunk does not kill him).

The kind prince was young, first in line for the throne, a good man, and would have been a good king. Dunk, to all appearances, was a nobody. What are Dunk's hand and foot worth against the life of such a great man, and two other fine knights beside? Wouldn't it have been better if Dunk had refused the Trial of Seven? And wasn't it foolish for six good men to risk their lives for Dunk's sake?

Dunk suggests that perhaps the Gods will twist fate such that in the future he will turn out more important than the prince who died for him. But I think this is unlikely and insufficient. What's important here is the moral issue: Dunk's companions weren't fighting for Dunk personally. Doing so really would have been foolish. Rather, they were fighting for the cause of justice. They were fighting for right.

What sort of world would it be where bad men hurt whoever they feel like, and maim any who would stand up to them? And how much worse if those who saw the injustice for what it was stood by and watched? The principle of the matter really is worth fighting, and dying, for.

To a good person, it should be a simple matter. No great intellectual arguments are needed. Dunk was defending the weak against the cruel. Of course his is the side of right. Of course we should throw our lot in with Dunk, take his side, and mean it. It's not a question of expedience or short-term gain. There are rival values being enacted in the world, and failing to take seriously the ones we care about is simply damning.

Besides, what good will come of standing by? What about the next time? Stand by again? And again? There's no point in delaying standing up for right. Either we should or we shouldn't. We should. (Yes, picking battles can be important, but that's just nuances.)

One major side-note is that a utilitarian would be totally blind to this analysis. He would see a prince who would have ruled justly and made the world better for many dying to help one. He would see six good men risking their lives for one. That utilitarianism cannot explain this matter (or perhaps: this issue is far less simple to a utilitarian), is a crushing criticism.


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marxists writing clearly

i'm not joking. (link) i read like half of it so far, and they say what they mean, and are being fairly intellectually honest so far. they supported Operation Iraqi Freedom. here's a quote:

But how is it possible for us to call ourselves Marxists and support a war waged by a coalition of rich western liberal democracies against the government of a poor “Third World” country? We would turn the question round: how it is possible that Marxism has been so corrupted and distorted that “Marxists” prefer to see thousands more Iraqis die in the torture chambers of the Ba’ath, and millions more suffer under the iniquities excused (not caused) by the UN sanctions, rather than admit that socialists not only can but must support even the worst bourgeois democracy against even the least bad tyranny?

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mmmm good comment

Tom comments:

sufficiently good values will make one an outcast. (unless he also knows how to fake worse values, and enjoy doing so, which is I consider kinda perverse). being an outcast *isn't* all that fun

Howcome they are good values then? Surely faking worse values isn't the only way to win respect. The majority of people admire courage, for example. Upholding good values takes courage, among other qualities. Why be a hermit, a Ben Kenobi? All hermits go a little bit crazy in the end, even those with lightsabers and/or broadband.

So it's hard to be good and popular. But whoever said that virtue doesn't require cunning? (And good PR)

PR helps of course, but I posit it can only take you so far. there are limits to how much of a worldview gap PR alone can bridge. after that you need to either act on different values or change society.

a simple example is people who find it natural that criticism is a gift to be cherished, may find it hard to get along with those who find it scary. yes, this particular issue isn't that hard to fake -- just don't criticise people who won't like it. but it's not very easy to enjoy faking it.

update: also, ppl who think criticism is scary, probably won't give you any useful criticism. lovely.


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rofl

Frank J writes:

Al Gore decided to support Howard Dean when he found out that Liberman is a Joooo!

Read the whole post here.


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i'm not being sarcastic. really.

so i hear sum ppl think The Americans murder Innocent Iraqis.

damn. they caught us. out of saddam's torture chambers into our death camps. we invaded cause saddam was too much of a pussy to do it right.


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my fucking god

Andrew Sullivan found this

At a debate, the Hamas candidate asked the Fatah candidate: "Hamas activists in this university killed 135 Zionists. How many did Fatah activists from Bir Zeit kill?"

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It's Tough Being Good

Suppose you are a bad person. You get angry a lot, have trouble valuing much, aren’t very successful, blame others for your troubles, and hurt your children often. But, whatever, you’re life isn’t so bad. You get through it, enjoy a fair amount of it.

Now, suppose someone claims to be moral, and you notice the implication that you are not. And suppose this person lacks all your bad traits. This might well make you feel bad.

And then you might write a letter to the so-called moral person, attacking him. The content might be along the lines of (if you were exceptionally intelligent and clear, for a bad person): You bastard, fuck you. You’re totally wrong. Oh, and if you reply in kind you’re just like me, except also a liar. Nope, just sit there and take it, Mr. High and Mighty. Oh, and you can’t get resentful because that would violate your moral code, huh? But you are mad at me, aren’t you? Yep, you’re a hypocrite. Now stop implying I’m bad, and get back to your stupid, lucky life.


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Jews Done Right

If you want to see some heartfelt praise of Jews, and some moral clarity, look at this Little Green Footballs thread. It made me smile.


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Reply To Alice

Alice Bachini commented below:

What is your definition of "good"?

Notice how it all starts with an epistemic error. I guess I need to go over this subject even more often. Suffice it for now that arguing semantics misses the point in a discussion.

100% morally perfect/ mostly morally correct/ has the best available world-view available at the current time in history?

We both know perfectly well that no one is 100% morally perfect, and that that criterion is absurd. So is having the best "available" worldview. And 'mostly right' just won't cut it either, because it's not a numbers game.

Rather, good is an explanation, and we must actually think to use the word, not just apply mechanical criteria.

Does your definition of "good" take into account people's inexplicit moral theories, as well as their explicit ones?

[sarcasm]No. Of course not. Why would I do that?[/sarcasm]

[different sarcasm]What, did you think I'm stupid?[/sarcasm]

Seriously if you want to talk to me, think about who you are talking to as you write. Feels like next you'll be asking, "Do you think maybe, just possibly, Popper might have gotten something right?" or "Do you think maybe, just possibly, Popper might have gotten something wrong?" Yes, of course, duh.

Does it take into account the degree of *activeness* with which the person exercises their goodness?

If such a thing exists, I take it into account imperfectly and inexplicitly. But I don't think it does. Is 'inactive good' the Nazi guard who has some reservations floating around in his head while he stops a jailbreak?

I expect to be told something like 'active good means actually doing good things'. But seems to me that just means living in a good way. But if active good is living well, then I don't see how inactive good could exist, as it would imply living wrongly, and thus not be good. If inactive good doesn't exist, then taking into account 'the degree of *activeness*' of someone's good is incoherent.

I'm not convinced that how tough your life is is principally characterised by how good you are (if that is what you are implying).

I didn't say that at all here. I gave ways being more good can make your life harder elsewhere, but of course I did not claim that's the only or main factor.

Here, I simply gave ways a bad person could fuck with a good person.

It seems to me that the toughness of one's life depends on factors such as being skilled at dealing with the problems one chooses for oneself, being flexible and good at acquiring new knowledge when needed, and so on.

Superficially that seems plausible. But we don't choose what problems to have directly. Mostly, they just happen to us. The car breaks down. Or we don't understand something. Or the son wants something. Or the boss wants something. Even choosing a hobby, say, means picking which problem to work on, not what problems exist. (It is possible to create interesting problems by designing games or puzzles, and other ways. But that's not important to this.)

Before I continue I want to clarify what the statement really says, behind the pretty words. It simply means that the way to get through life best is to A) choose the right problems to have in your life B) Deal with problems rightly (And a few aspects of how to do this are listed)

Well, A) is wrong, and B) is kinda obvious (It's just a form of "we should act rightly"). Anyhow, if we can't control the problems we face directly, and we are doing our best to solve them, is that all we can do?

No! A focus on dealing only with current and foreseeable problems is damning. We must add into this an analysis of morality, and act rightly even if we cannot see the benefit. This means putting aside any petty notions about aiming for an easy life, or putting happiness above all, and accepting any (moral, but otherwise too) argument that seems true, like it or not.

Good knowledge of the practical details required to live by one's theories, perhaps.

No, knowledge of one's theories is required to live by one's theories. That simple. Well, that and theories you can do. Theories that ask you to do things you don't know how to are just idiotic (as opposed to ones that tell you to learn, then do it).

Plus a good deal of luck, like being in the right place at the right time.

[sarcasm]Yeah, let's blame our problems on luck, chance, and maybe the heavens.[/sarcasm]

Sometimes people get picked on for being good. Sometimes they get picked on for being fat or wearing glasses or being a child.

Dear god, is this really an equivocation between being good and wearing glasses? Does it really imply that attacking goodness and attacking fatness are equally bad?

Adults getting picked on for being good can develop a wide range of strategies for dealing with it, so they don't experience it as coercive, and don't mind it at all, even find it amusing, in most cases, except where they're being arrested and tortured in unfree countries, maybe.

They can develop a wide range of strategies for dealing with it, but "so they don't experience it as coercive" is not the point of all of them. It's only the point of the ones favoured by the commenter.

The sentiments seem to be that if we can find a way not to mind badness, then the problem is solved. Of course, if held consistently, this view should apply to being arrested and tortured too.

The right view is more like: badness is not bad "because it might coerce good people" and the solution is not "to find states of mind more defended against coercion." Rather, we must not let bad people try to hurt us in the first place. A successful defense requires using offense -- we must fight evil, not just try to cope with it.

Some good adults find those skills harder to develop than others: I think it depends on their entrenchments, their meta-knowledge, luck, and other variables.

Or in plain and more accurate English: it depends on their worldview and their situation (and luck, or so it's claimed).

[sarcasm]Really? Wow! I never would have thought of that! I'm glad you told me.[/sarcasm]


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weeee

abandoners tend to have trouble seeing the difference between help and authoritative control. (what is advice if not just a form of getting people to do what you say?)

authorities tend to have trouble seeing the difference between freedom and abandonment. (what is freedom if not leaving the authority's jurisdiction?)

but we can have freedom and help both, without the bad stuff.


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when in doubt about what to post

just google news for: israel palestine

and soon you will read stuff like

"Fact is, Israel is a damn near theocracy, for goodness sake." and be inspired to post. sheesh. post coming soon, and adding LGF to perm links, cause i ought to read it more, and it totally rocks.


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new category :-)

The Wall: Sharon's Long-planned Land Grab

ISRAELI WALL STRANGLES ALL HOPES FOR PEACE:
SHARON'S LONG-PLANNED APPROPRIATION OF PALESTINIAN LAND BY ANNEXATION

By Christopher Bollyn
American Free Press

Methinks it's a good thing for him he's right about that 'free press' comment....

Here's the source. Linking sources is something Chris (the author) doesn't bother with, but I still think is important.

The Israeli "separation barrier" is the realization of Ariel Sharon-s long-planned settlement scheme to appropriate vast amounts of Palestinian land and water resources by isolating and impoverishing the Holy Land's Christian and Moslem population. It is a racist wall, according to its critics, designed to cause the expulsion of the native population by denying Palestinians access to their land and water.

It's amusing how Chris disavows some of his claims by blaming them on other people. For example, "It is a racist wall, according to its critics". If you're willing to just repeat what some Hamas spokesman dreamed last night, you can write an article saying virtually anything against Israel, without having to make a claim yourself. This way if anyone disagrees, you can refer them to Hamas to argue with :-)

Also of note is how the j000s aren't just racist against Palestinians. Oh no, now they're stealing land from Christians too. I guess this is because the US has a lot of Christians that Chris would like to convert to his cause.

And if you're thinking, "sheesh, Elliot, you didn't even refute his claims, this is just ad hominem BS." I'd just like to point out Chris didn't bother source any of them. They really are just made up, far as I can tell.

I'd also like to refer you to Honest Reporting's take on the fence.

Bethlehem and its Christian holy site has become an open-air prison, like the Gaza Strip, surrounded by an Israeli-built electrified wall v an "atrocity" paid for and supported by the U.S. government.

Does Chris really think he can turn US Christians against Israel this easily? Even in the midst of his own rhetoric he shies away from saying strong words like 'atrocity' himself and has to quote them. What a whiny bitch.

Depicted by the pro-Zionist mass media as a "self-defense" measure required to foil Palestinian terror attacks, the wall is actually the beginning of the final phase of the long-planned appropriation of Palestinian land and water resources begun decades ago by the current Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon.

Riiiiight. The mass media is full of Jews, except lonely Chris fighting the good fight. He might even have had a point...if it wasn't for the fact that every other media outlet says the same damn thing. That's right, media outlets are all lone beacons of sanity surrounded by j0000s. You'd think we didn't even have the telegraph yet or something, the way they communicate.

The real objective of the wall is the de facto annexation of Palestinian land to Israel and the forced expulsion of the native population from their homes and land

You'll never guess how Chris found that out.

according to Stop the Wall, a Palestinian "anti-apartheid" organization.

Yup, that's right, a Hamas spokesman told him.

Nearly all of the illegal Israeli settlements built in the occupied territory will be included in the annexed areas of the West Bank. 98 percent of the settler population will be on the Israeli side of the wall, according to Stop the Wall. Actions, such as Jewish settlements, which affect the demography of an occupied territory are clear violations of international law.

I had to scroll a long ways to find this. Chris spent many paragraphs going on about unsourced "facts" that he says the Palestinian something-or-other organisation told him.

Anyway, I'll answer with a Bush quote (which I will actually source, too!):

Mr Schroeder says international law must apply to the awarding of the lucrative contracts.

"This is the task for all people, for all of us, and because it is for everyone we don't need to discuss exactly who individually is participating in the economical side of reconstruction here, international law must apply and must help the cause," he said.

But President Bush has brushed that aside.

"International law? I better call my lawyer. He didn't bring that up to me," he said.

(emphasis mine)

Anyway, that's enough of Chris. I'm gonna do something else now.


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CNN belives in ghosts

and so does half its readers.

link and check out the quick poll results. currently 18k ppl say hoax, 15k say ghost.


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Entry #100

ok so i google newsed for israel palestine again, and found this at the top. it's some chinese diplomat saying the way to create peace in the middle east is international support for peace. ho hum.

but it gets worse. the entire thing has zero moral judgments.

but it gets even worse. it does have this:

He called on the United Nations to continue its efforts to resolve the dispute, and urged the international community to giveassistance to programs benefiting Palestinians.

There was no equivalent statement urging anyone to help Israelis. Also, if you stop and think about what many Palestinian organisations actually do with money (kill Jews) ... *cough*

To try and appear fair and balanced, the article does bother to quote an Israeli once. However, they managed to find one who opposes Sharon. *sweatdrop*

Zehava Galon, a member of Israel's Knesset, said the Geneva Initiative, launched on Dec. 1 by groups in Palestine and Israel, had the best chance of success, and the international community should make joint efforts to promote it.

Here's what Sharon says, which makes rather a lot of sense:

"Geneva is an attempt to do something only a government can do. Only a government can conduct political negotiations and sign an agreement," he said.

"It is damaging and embarrassing for Israel, it's a mistake to put on such a show and at the same time jeopardize a program which is the only one that can bring a solution," Sharon argued, in reference to the roadmap.

BTW the article i got that quote from is HEAVILY biased, but I noticed the islam-online URL so I won't bother criticising it bit by bit.


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lying bastards

Just read this.

U.S. Leaders Support New Israel-Palestine Peace Initiatives, Geneva Initiative

The thing is, if you read the article, it's *former* US officials. sheesh.

And this article, like all the others I've seen so far, tries to portray the Geneva Initiative as a joint Palestinian-Israeli venture, and a big step towards cooperation and peace, even though it's opposed by the Israeli government, and only left-wing loonies are cooperating on it.


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not just a new category, but my new favorite ^^

back to google news. found this. safe-looking URL and says it's an associated press story, so off we go:

Sharon said Thursday that if the Palestinians did not make serious peace moves in the next few months, Israel would impose its own boundary on them. Palestinians say only a negotiated agreement can bring peace.

Doesn't this mean that if Israel simply tries to defend itself and doesn't make enough concessions at the bargaining table, Palestinians will continue trying to exterminate Israel (ie not have peace).

Peace doesn't come from words, it comes from refraining from murder and attempted murder.

They are worried that unilateral Israeli action would leave them with far less land than they want for a future state.

Oh how horrid. They're clearly oppressed -- they won't get as much land as they'd like unless they stop trying to murder jews.

Qureia has said he would agree to the meeting only if Sharon showed a willingness to compromise on a series of contentious issues, including the construction of a security barrier that dips deep into the West Bank.

Deep, eh? Ever look at a map? Dipshit.

And the Qureia guy will only consider fighting terrorism if Sharon gives him stuff? My God, Sharon ought to give him a beating.

Sharon has refused to stop building the barrier, but has said Israel planned to ease closings, curfews and other restrictions on Palestinians.

Know why? Because the fence makes them unnecssary. Credit should go where it's due; this is a pretty serious distortion.

Soldiers shot tear gas into a girls school in the camp, just outside the West Bank town of Nablus, witnesses said. The military denied firing tear gas and said the incursion was routine in search of militants and weapons.

Do you know why the IDF searches girls' schools for terrorists and weapons? Because they hide them there! Scum.

Did you notice how the reporter didn't bother to find out what happened, and just repeated some made-up lies about the IDF? Then tries to paint it like a coverup when he cites the IDF.

anyway, it's sunday, so i better write some frontpage stuff, so probably no more posts here today. cya


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just had to quote this

Saddam watches a lot of videos. He reads a lot of thrillers. And he watches a lot of TV: not only Iraqi but especially CNN, BBC and al-Jazeera.

(source)


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Sadly the USA isn't Perfect

(If you don't see quotes in both blue and red backgrounds, hit refresh.)

Four days ago Sharon gave a speech that Woty and I thought was good. But what did the US government think?

I've found two articles to analyse with very different takes. Quotes from this one by the BBC will appear with a light red background. Quotes from this one by the JPost will appear with a light blue background. (Note: Both articles came out the same day.)

US warns Israel over 'separation'

The United States has warned Israel against taking any unilateral measures to separate itself from Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

White House 'very pleased' with PM's speech

Oh dear, that's quite a difference. Either someone is pretty damn biased, or the US is sending mixed messages (which would be bad).

I'm going to go through the JPost article first.

"We were very pleased with the overall speech," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said regarding Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's remarks at the Herzliya Conference.

The White House on Friday modified its appraisal of the speech, offsetting published accounts that focused on McClellan's admonition Thursday that Sharon should not try to impose a settlement on the Palestinians without negotiations.

The State Department echoed the White House praise, although deputy spokesman Adam Ereli also cautioned Israel against acting without consulting the Palestinians on issues that ought to be resolved through negotiations.

So far it sounds like the White House is sending mixed messages. Dammit.

Sharon said that while Israel is interested in conducting direct negotiations, it will not be held hostage by the Palestinians. "I have already said we will not wait for them indefinitely," he said.

The JPost article quotes Sharon's speech heavily. Skimming to find more about the US reaction now.

Sharon defined the goals of disengagement as reducing terrorism as much as possible and granting Israelis maximum security to improve the quality of life and strengthen the economy. He stressed that the unilateral steps will be fully coordinated with the US.

"We must not harm our strategic coordination with the US," he said.

Sounds good, but is it true?

Also, 'unilateral steps ... coordinated with the US'. Heh.

Sharon began his speech, which was shown to the US administration before delivery, by pledging his allegiance to the road map and President George W. Bush's vision of a two-state solution.

Wait a second. We saw the speech first! Does anyone really think they showed us the speech, we said we hated it, then they read it including claims about cooperation with the US? If we'd f